■yi%v,- .-' -^^
STUART BANYAR BLAKELY
CRIST, SCOTT & PARSHALL,
C'ooperstown, N. Y.
"On the grave-posts of our fathers
Are no signs, no figures painted;
Who are in those graves we know not,
Only know they are our fathers."
This little book is the result of the past four
summers' work in searching old records, con-
sulting books and articles that bear upon local
history and talking with those who, by age or
interest, are authorities. An endeavor has been
made, by fair search and impartial judgment, to
bring together data of local interest, particularly
such that exist only in men's memory. It has
been impossible, in the time at my disposal, to
gather all the facts that may be found recorded.
To name all the occupants, or even the first
settlers, of every farm would be an unprofitable
and probably an impossible task. Moreover, it
must not be forgotten that many of the early
settlers were very transient.
A few explanations of the text may be needed.
The terms "above" and "below," or "upper" and
"lower," are used to locate places in reference
to the center of the village, and do not refer to
the river or the creek. The facts about the
churches have been taken chiefly from Hurd's
History of Otsego County. I cannot vouch for
the truth of the legends and the stories.
It has been necessary, as well as interesting,
to gather a great deal of the genealogy of the
families of this town. This is at the disposal of
any one desiring it. I wish to thank the many
who have contributed to this history by word and
deed. I am especially indebted to W. J. Goddard.
As a history the book is far from being complete,
and of necessity contains errors. Any correc-
tions, suggestions or new facts will be most grate-
fully received. If a greater desire to preserve
family records and traditions is aroused, if a wider
interest in local history is created, if a few facts
have been rescued from oblivion, I shall feel well
repaid, and the purpose of this little history will
have been accomplished.
STUART B. BLAKELY
Otego, N. Y.
September 1, 1907.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I Indian Occupation: The Indian Village
of Wauteghe 13
II Indian and other Names in the Town
and the Vicinity 20
III The Organization of the Township:
Old Otego 29
IV The Period before the Revolution:
The Patents 34
V Otego during the Revolution 42
VI Settlement: The Ogdens 45
VII The South Side of the River 51
VIII The North Side of the River 59
IX Mill Creek 72
X The Otsdawa 78
XI Flax Island Creek 93
XII Briar Creek 99
XIII Churches: Schools in the Village:
Postoffices: River Bridges: News-
XIV Otego's Old Soldiers 117
XV Miscellaneous 122
XVI Pioneer Experiences 130
XVII Legends and Stories 139
Bibliography 1 52
Map of Otego Township, showing Hiintsville, a part
of old Otego, and those portions of the three patents that
lie within the town. About two miles to the inch.
The township of Otego comprises 26,634 acres
on the southern border of Otsego county. It is
bounded on the north by Laurens, on the east by
Oneonta, on the south by Delaware county, on
the west by Unadilla and Butternuts. The part
north of the Susquehanna river is separated into
ridges 200-400 feet high, which in general, are
parallel with the creeks that empty into the river.
The range of hills on the south side along the
valley is unbroken. In 1770 the valley was
described as a "beautiful country with fertile soil
and well timbered; deer were as numerous as
cattle on a thousand hills, and the river was alive
with fish." In general the soil is a clay and sandy
loam. The population, according to the census
of 1905, was 1,708.
The village of Otego is situated on the Susque-
hanna river in latitude 42 24' and in longitude
75° ir at an elevation of about 1050 feet above
the sea. It is a station on the railroad of the
Delaware and Hudson Company, ninety miles
from Albany and fifty-three miles from Bingham-
ton. In 1800 it was a hemlock swamp with only
one frame house in the vicinity; even twenty
years later the children often amused themselves
by jumping from bog to bog, from Main street to
the river. About 1835 the land south of Main
street was overgrown with low bushes, white oaks
and small pines, and through it there ran a path
worn by children's feet on their way to the little
red schoolhouse. A pipe was recently sunk one
hundred thirty feet, and, after passing through
the surface soil and a thin stratum of gravel, only
quag was found. The village was incorporated
12 July 1892, and comprises six hundred forty
acres. Its population on 15 September 1907 was
about 613. It contains 180 houses, including
hotels and stores.
History of Otego
THE early Indian history of this region is uncer-
tain. By tradition the Delawares occupied the
land; also the Tuscaroras, before they moved to
the South. The Eskimos probably passed through
the valley on their journey to the North. It is,
however, certain that this region has always been
occupied by Huronian, never by Algonquin peo-
ples permanently, and that the original occupants
of the valley were the Susquehanna Indians,
called by the French Andastes. About 1675 they
were driven south by a great people who had come
from Lower Canada into possession of the
territory. Called Iroquois by the French, the
Five Nations by the English, Mengwe by the
Delawares, and Ko-no-shi-o-ni or He-do-ne-sau-
nee by themselves, these Indians were the
"Romans of this hemisphere, and were a federa-
tion noted chiefly for the originality of their
league, their victorious campaigns and their
oratory." Their most warlike tribe was the Mo-
hawk, a name that became a synonym of blood.
The possession of Otego territory seems to have
been in dispute, but probably belonged to the
Oneidas, the last Mohawk village on the Susque-
hanna being the one at the mouth of the
14 History of Otego
Charlotte. But the Onondagas seem to have had
some claim to the region, and it is possible that
Otego and Otsdawa are both Onondaga names.
The Iroquois overcame the Delawares in the
latter part of the seventeenth century. In 1714
the Tuscaroras, returning from the South, joined
the Five Nations, making the Six Nations.
Through this region hunted Oneidas, Tuscaroras
and subject Delawares. Campbell in his History
of Oneonta says that this region was the scene
of many sanguinary conflicts between different
tribes that contended with each other for its
The Iroquois lived in small and shifting villages,
around which small clearings had usually been
made. Frequently cornfields and in later days
apple-orchards were planted. Their camps were
"temporary and determined by fishing and hunting
advantages," and were usually near springs and
the mouths of creeks. There were many Indian
houses on the Susquehanna in 1770, but in 1779
General Clinton destroyed the Indian civiliza-
tion. For many years after the Revolution
straggling friendly individuals and parties would
erect their wigwams, often on the sites of their
former villages, and remain a variable time, fish-
ing, making baskets and trinkets, drying apples
and looking for mineral landmarks. As late as
1830 some Indians camped at the head of the West
Branch. The main Indian trails ran along both
sides of the river, the one on the north side being
the more used.
At the mouth of the Otsdawa was a camp on
both sides of creek and river. Both historic and
History of Otego IS
prehistoric flints have been found just below
William Van Name's, on the second terrace back
from the river. Indian pottery and ovens have
been found on the Day flats, and perfect pottery
has been found near the village on the east bank
of the Otsdawa. Just below the river road-bridge,
on the south bank of the river, fragments of
pottery have been picked up; on the other bank
near the Borden ice-houses are clear evidences of
Indian ovens, and a fine grainer has been found
there. The rift just above this bridge is probably
an old Indian weir where there was a shad-fishery.
In 1800 there was an Indian encampment where
Mrs. Mary A. Rathbun's house stands.
At the mouth of Flax Island creek a fire place
has been found about one hundred fifty feet south
of the creek on the north bank of the river. Two
years ago a fire place was reported to be washed
out of the south bank of the river, a little below
the mouth of Briar creek.
Orlando Quackenbush reports that there used to
be Indian dugouts in the south bank of the river
just above the upper railroad bridge; and that on
his flat bushels of clam-shells were found, and
that there the Indians had a shad-fishery.
There was a camp down on what is known as
the Peter Mickle place, near a large spring. It
is said that there was another camp up in the
woods near the old road, and still another just
northeast on the old Sigsbee farm with an Indian
orchard, where, it is claimed, was the last camping
place of the red men in town. From this general
locality there probably ran a trail along the ridge
of higher land toward the river, which it crossed
16 History of Otego
a little way below Hale's Rocks; thence it passed
up the Calder Hill ravine, where there is said to
have been another camp, and on over the hill to
the camp on the Otsdawa. The vicinity of these
rocks is said to have been a favorite camping
place of the Indians after the Revolution. In the
bank, some distance above, was probably one of
their burying-grounds. On these rocks, as late,
as 1844, were some Indian paintings of warriors
in two canoes.
Ninety years ago, east of the West Branch, on
the farm of M. A. Edson, was a grove of spruce
covering about three acres of flat land, in an
opening within this grove were three rows of
mounds, seven in a row, each mound being about
twenty inches high and six feet long. It is sup-
posed to be an Indian burying-ground. About
twelve rods southeast was a spot, thirty feet
square, of black mellow earth with a profusion of
flint scales, and of broken, imperfect, and perfect
arrow-heads. Such another spot is said to have
been noticed in the bank near the river on the
upper part of the Hale farm. On a knoll, east
of the West Branch, on land now owned by R. G.
Cornell, once stood an Indian house, about 8x10
feet, built of small pine logs notched together ai
the corners and with a split-timber floor. It was
used as a Sunday meeting-house until the land
was cleared when it was torn down. In his
Aboriginal Occupation of New York Mr. Beau-
champ marks a large camp two miles north of
Otego, east of and near the creek. This was prob-
ably a winter camp, occupying about the location
of the town water-works, a spot once covered with
History of Otego 17
hemlock. The Indians are said to have had a
sugar-bush on the place settled by Samuel Green.
On the hill west of Charles Terry's some timbers
of an Indian house were once found between two
rocks. There is said to have been a camp at
The encampment of the Indian chieftain, Brant,
was still standing with its poles, crotches and
coverings within the limits of the present village
of Otego, when the first settlers came in, according
to Child's Directory of Otsego County. This may
be true; but Brant certainly camped near the
Otego creek, and it seems not reasonable that he
should have had another camp so near. The
"Bread Loaf," on land of Mrs. Ruth Newland in
the village, on which was once growing a single
poplar, can not be regarded as an Indian mound.
Indian arrow-heads and flint pieces have been
found in great abundance on the slope in front of
the Willow Vale School-house (No. 2), and near
by is a fine spring. The locality seems to be a
likely place for a camp. On Briar creek is the
"Indian Oven," on land of Lester D. Gillett.
There is said to have been a camp near a spring
on the hill west of the Southard place, and another
camp and a burying-ground by the creek near
where Mrs. Elizabeth Waite recently lived.
The Indian village of Wauteghe
Wauteghe was a rather large village of good
buildings near the mouth of the Otego creek.
The main clearing, east of the creek, extended up
the north bank of the river about one mile.
18 History of Otego
"The village embraced what was afterwards
known as the VanWoert, Calkins and Stoughton
Alger farms." In the later days of its existence
an orchard was planted, and not many years ago
some of the trees were still standing, the place
being known as Indian Orchards. Dudley
Campbell writes the word "Ahtigua" and says
that there was an Indian mound in the vicinity.
Sir William Johnson is reported to have rested
in the village over night about 1750, and there
to have had his dream by which he got his
"Dreamland Tract" from old Chief Hendricks.
The Indians had a burying-ground in Calkin's
Grove, and the old cemetery now there is said to
have been started at that place because it was
where the red men made their graves. Seth
Rowley, a Revolutionary soldier, said that when
the grave of Henry Scramling was dug there, the
skeleton of an Indian was found wrapped in elm.
bark with a banner-stone and arrow-heads. The
village had been evacuated before 1753. It has
been suggested that the Indians had left because
they had sold the land to Sir William Johnson a
few years before.
The village is frequently mentioned. Gideon
Hawley, a missionary from Stockbridge, Mass.,
passed down the river to Oghquaga (now Wind-
sor) in 1753. In his journal, under date of June 1,
he says that his party arrived at "Wauteghe at
which had been an Indian village where were a
few fruit trees and considerable cleared land but
No mention of the village is made in the
Journals of the Sullivan Expedition, but one
History of Otego 19
writer speaks of "an Indian place called Otago."
The following is from the journal of Richard
Wells, a surveyor of the Otego Patent —
"June 2, 1769. We landed and walked half a
mile along the path to the old field,
and from thence it is about half a mile
to the mouth of Otego. This field has
been formerly planted by the Indians with
corn and apple trees. A few of the latter remain
scattered about and are now in bloom and inter-
mixed with aspens and other wild trees with rasp-
berries and blackberries and there are quantities
of strawberry vines in blossom. The soil is fit
for the plough and tolerably level. Otego is
here but narrow and fordable for horses; the
Susquehanna may be about fifty yards over.
W. Ridgeway saw yesterday Indians who had just
taken two young beavers alive in the Otego."
From this place his party went down the river,
and the journal continues — -"The path to
Ohquhaga is very near the river mostly — we saw
no creek of note this afternoon but were incom-
moded by Muscetoes."
In the survey of the Wallace patent in 1773
mention is made of the "apple trees in the Otego
Indian field which stood near the Indian trail."
On the map of Oneonta in the 1867 Atlas of
Otsego County are shown, east of the Otego creek
about midway between the railroad and the river,
an Indian Orchard and a Cemetery, and on the
south bank of the river, opposite, another "Old
Indian and Other Names in the Town and th3
THE Indian names of New York state are
either Algonquin or Iroquois. The Indians gave
names to localities from some characteristic of
the region, or from some local event. These
names were often trivial and as transient as
Indian habitations. Frequently the same place
was known by different names, and the same
name might be applied to entirely different places.
Seldom were Indian names the result of poetic
inspiration. "Vale of Beauty," "Leafy Waters,"
and the like are but foolish interpretations that
cling tenaciously. The surveyors and the early
settlers took many of the native names, as they
understood them, and applied them to specific
places and streams, using sometimes a translation
more often a corruption of them. Thus through
the lapse of tongue and pen and time the certain
meaning of many Indian names is lost forever.
The Indian names of immediate interest are
Otego and Otsdawa, both Iroquois names. Some
of the many variations in spelling, that occur in
early maps, journals and land records, will be
briefly noted. The Old New York Frontier by
F. W. Halsey and Indian Names in New York by
Rev. W. M. Beauchamp, as well as personal
interviews with Mr. Beauchamp and Willard E.
Yager of Oneonta, have been of great value in
preparing the first part of this chapter.
History of Otego 21
OTEGO (Wauteghe; Atege on a map of 1826;
Atega; Atiga; Adiga on a map of 1769; Odego;
Otage; Otago; in the grant of the Otego patent
Adige and Otago both occur.) This is a very old
Indian name, and Wauteghe is probably the oldest
known form. The term was first applied to the
region about the mouth of the Otego creek, then
to the Indian village there, then to the creek, then
to the patent, then to the old town, and in 1830 to
the present town.
Mr. Yager is of the opinion that the most prob-
able meaning of the word is "place of the but-
ternut," or "place of the sugar-maple." The
Indians were very partial to naming localities
from trees and plants, and these trees, especially
the butternut, were thick in the Otego valley.
(Oo-ha-wa-ta, butternut tree; Ho-wa-ta, sugar-
maple; a-ga, place of) These words are Onon-
daga, but the other tribes had forms much like
them. Two variations of the term seem to
exist, Wauteghe and all other known forms. By ■
supposing that the original form of the word
from which Otego has been derived, was a com-
pound of one of the above nouns with the suffix
a-ga, forming something like "Oo-wa-t(a)-a-ga,"
it would be possible to derive all the forms known
Mr. Beauchamp holds that Otego is derived
from the form A-te-gen, which means "to have
a fire there," meaning a campfire or something
more. He explains the form Wauteghe by the
fact that the Iroquois often prefixed letters or
syllables to their words, varying but not materi-
ally changing their meaning. If this be the true
22 History of Otego
rendering of the word, it illustrates the often
trivial origin of Indian names.
Another explanation suggested by Mr. Yager is
that Otego may be derived from Wau, mountains
or hills, and a-ga, place of. The region about
the mouth of the Otego creek is one of the few
places along the river where the hills come close
to the water. But this rendering is very improb-
able, for, among other reasons, Wau is an Algon-
The statement that Otego means "pleasant
valley" is of no value. Some wag has said that
Otego is derived from the saying of a mythical
Indian chief, who grieved to leave this beautiful
region, saying over and over again, "O, to go."
The fanciful legends of the origin of Otego and
Otsdawa may be found in Chapter XVII.
OTSDAWA (Ockwada and Otsdawada in a
conveyance of 1816; Osdawaw, Odsdawaw, Otsda-
waw, etc.) This has been rendered "red stone."
The soil up and down this stream is distinctly
of this color, and there is red shale back on the
Mr. Beauchamp thinks that Otsdawa is derived
from the Mohawk word Ots-te-a-ra (Os-ten-ra),
rock. If this be the true meaning, in all prob-
ability the name refers to the region of Hale's
Rocks, on which were the Indian paintings. He
suggests that another possible derivation is from
Ots-ta, fish scale.
Mr. Yager says that Otsdawa is derived from
Ots-ka-wa, big or tall hemp. A century and
more ago below the mouth of Flax Island creek
History of Otego ' 23
and in "Stillwater" was an island, which has long
since disappeared, where grew wild flax or hemp.
This was a necessity to the Indians, who called
the locality the place of the "big hemp." The
white man, roughly translating the Indian name,
applied it to the stream near by, and, corrupting
it to Otsdawa, applied this term to the creek
farther east that bears it now.
Otsdawa has been said to be a corruption of
the word Ottawa, which is translated "traders."
The following are of more or less interest:
Mohawk — bear, or man eater.
Oneida — stone, or people of the stone, a stand-
ing stone being the tribe's symbol.
Susquehanna — an Algonquin word and vari-
ously translated — river of long reaches, crooked
river, muddy stream, smooth river, possibly a
corruption of the Latin Sequana. The Iroquois,
who owned the stream in historic times, called
it by another name which meant "The River of
Great Islands." The river was also known to
the Indians as the "River of Nice Sand."
Otsego (Otsego in a record of 1754; Ostenha;
Assega; Otesaga) — clear deep water; or refers
to the Council Rock at the foot of the lake; or,
most probably, refers to the origin of the Sus-
Unadilla (many forms of this word exist) —
pleasant valley; or place of meeting; or, best,
where the stream forks.
Oneonta (Onoyarenton) — place of the stone;
or, better, where the rocks crop out. A very
improbable origin is from Ononta, hill or moun-
24 History of Otego
The following are some other names, not of
Indian origin, occurring in the town and the
Hamburg (h) — the name given early in the
last century to the hamlet in the eastern part of
the then town of Unadilla, which afterward be-
came Huntsville and is now Otego village. It
is said to have been suggested by T. R. Austin.
Huntsville was so called in honor of Ransom
Hunt, a prominent pioneer, who did much to
advance the interests of the little settlement.
First, Hamburg, and then, Huntsville clung for
a long time as village names. River street was
once nicknamed Pickle street, from the fact that
two of its residents. Dr. Benedict and Benjamin
Corey, had their jugs frequently filled to make,
as they claimed, a favorite "pickle." Church
street, once known as Chestnut street, was, but
a comparatively few years ago, a little lane run-
ning down to the Episcopal church. L. A.
Beagle's house was the first one built on this
street. Other names of Follett street have been
New street and Cross street.
In 1800 Briar creek was known as Wheaton
creek. It was soon changed to Potter's creek
after Robert Potter, "one of the earliest settlers,
a big man and a great worker." In 1810 a high
wind blew down nearly every tree on over one
hundred acres near its head. The spot was soon
covered with blackberry briars. This circum-
stance and the fact that many briars were allowed
to grow along the fences gave it the name of
Briar creek. In 1854 the Center Brook post-
office was established, John W. Pearce suggest-
History of Otego 25
ing the name, and the creek gradually became
known as Center Brook. The name was not
popular. When the postoffice was discontinued,
Briar creek came into use again. The older
term is still heard in the expression, Center
Brook church. Center Brook was midway be-
tween Sand Hill creek and Flax Island creek.
Willow Vale is a wide district on the north side
of the river about the mouth of Briar creek.
Here is the Dodge or Willow Vale Schoolhouse.
The name is said to have been suggested by
William Trask, from the great willows set out
along the creek's bank to confine it. Wheaton
creek is a tributary of Briar creek, that enters
just below Carl Smith's. It was named from
Ben Wheaton. The Rhode Island Settlement
included the Potters, the Merithews and other
families. East of schoolhouse No. 4 is Emmons
or Wheaton Hill. About the head of the
creek, lying largely in the town of Butternuts,
was Puckerhuddle (Puggyhuddle; Tuggyhuddle) .
Its origin is unknown. The name is said to have
been suggested by David S. Hurd. Here lived
the Whitneys, the Canfields, Peter Famum,
Horatio Merrick, Darius Niles and others.
Bull Dog was a former name of Gilbertsville,
and Frog Harbor was a locality near by.
Flax Island creek in all probability was named
from a small well known island in the river be-
low its mouth where the wild flax grew in abun-
dance. In the resurvey of the Wallace patent in
1773 this island is called Flax Island. In a
deed of 1807 it is called this, and also
Vrooman's Island. It is entirely possible that
26 History of Otego
at some time flax has been raised on some
island in this creek. See Otsdawa above.
Shepherds Corners was formerly alluded to as
Federal Hook. It was prematurely laid out into
city lots, and vied with the old town. It then
waned; but in 1884 was picking up again, when
the name of Burdicks Corners was suggested.
Many Shepherds lived here. Royal Shepherd kept
for many years a hotel where M. R. Bourne
lives. The neighborhood of schoolhouse No. 10
near the head of Flax Island was known as
Hampshire village before 1820. Here lived the
families of Marr, Woodward, Day, Persons and
Barker, all from New Hampshire. There is said
to have been another locality on Flax Island
creek known as Humphreyville, but no trace of
it can be found.
The vicinity of the junction of the east and the
west branches of the Otsdawa was early called
the Bundy Settlement. Weaver Street was ori-
ginally that portion of the West Branch road
where the Weavers lived. It was eventually ap-
plied to the entire West Branch. The name has
disappeared. In 1824 the junction of the upper
cross-road to Flax Island creek with the West
Branch road was known as Brown's Settlement
or Schoolhouse. On the East Branch: Old Peak
was a little-used term applied to the hill east of
the old Martin farm. Green Street is the locality
about schoolhouse No. 15, where the Greens
settled. The term was never so inclusive as
Weaver Street, and is preserved in "Green
Street Schoolhouse." East of this schoolhouse
is Beetle Hill, of which two derivations are pos-
History of Otego 27
sible: one, from a family of Bedell, who may
have lived here; the other, the more probable,
from the fact that some one once made beetles on
the hill. "Dog Island" was a little huddle of
squatters' log huts near the creek, largely on
the present Merithew farm. Goatsville was the
former title of Otsdawa hamlet, and was so
named from the fact that Phineas Cook, who
once owned all the land where the hamlet stands,
kept a large stock of cattle, sheep and goats.
Calder Hill was named from Godfrey Calder.
Mill creek was called Scrambling's mill creek
as early as 1800. A road survey of 1801
speaks of "the Pine Plain below Robt. E. Winn'?,
south of Mill Creek." Slab City, or Canfield's
Corners, was the name of the little huddle of
houses at the foot of the old Mill creek road,
near S. S. Crandall's. A later name was Kansas
Corners, or "Bleeding Kansas." This was the
old "Corner," and was once quite flourishing.
Here "Jose" Wiles had a blacksmith shop and
David Canfield, a grocery store. In the river,
opposite, is Bird's Eddy; near by is Horton's
"Slang" or Slank. Arabia was a term applied
to school district No. 9, probably because many
of the settlers there came from the vicinity of
Stone Arabia on the Mohawk. The locality of
this schoolhouse was called first the Thayer, then
the Perry Settlement. This was in Green Valley,
or "Hell Hollow."
On the south side of the river: back of
Northup's house, is Dumpling Hill, so called
from its shape. To the east is Chamberlain
Hill. Stony Brook, known by this name as early
28 History of Otego
as 1815, is a small stream that flows into the
river between the Blakely and the old Sigsbee
farms. It has falls about twenty feet in height.
Opposite the Village is Franklin Mountain. Still-
water is a wide and "still" place in the river,
opposite Shepherds Corners. Here was old Flax
Island. Tight Nipping extended from the Hough-
ton farm to Wells Bridge, and was so named
from the fact that the settlers here were poor
and had a "Hard Scrabble" to get along. The
name is said to have been bestowed by Milton
Merwin on his return from a whale-fishing trip.
The Organization of the Township
THE land embraced by the present town-
ship of Otego has been successively part of
The wilderness of the Province of New York;
Albany county, one of the two original counties
of the state, formed in 1683;
Tryon county, named in honor of Sir William
Tryon, the Provincial Governor, formed from the
western part of Albany county in 1772. Otego
was in the Canajoharie district, one of the five
into which the county was divided. On 12
April 1784 Tryon county was changed to Mont-
Montgomery county, named in honor of Gen-
eral Richard Montgomery, who fell at Quebec;
Otsego county, set off from the southern part
of the last named county 16 February 1791, con-
taining two townships already formed, Otsego
and Cherry Valley. The county when first
formed had as western and southern boundaries
the Unadilla and Delaware rivers; but in 1797
Delaware county was formed from Ulster and
Otsego counties with the Susquehanna river as
its northern boundary. The part of Delaware
county lying along this river was so inaccessible
to the rest of the county that in 1822, when
Huntsville was formed, the tier of lots on the
south side of the river was added to Otsego
county. The law added farther east than the
limits of Huntsville.
30 History of Otego
The following shows the steps in the forma-
tion of the present Otego from preformed town-
The township of Otsego was formed in Mont-
gomery county 7 March 1788.
Unadilla was taken from Otsego 10 March 1792.
"Old Otego" was taken from Unadilla 5 Feb-
Huntsville was formed 12 April 1822 from the
eastern part of Unadilla and the above mentioned
tier of lots taken at that time from Delaware
county; its boundaries were the same as those
of the present town of Otego, except that its
east line was the west line of Old Otego.
The present township of Otego was formed 17
April 1830 from Huntsville and the western part
of old Otego.
The old town of Otego was formed from the
eastern part of the town of Unadilla 5 February
1796. Its boundaries were roughly as follows:
on the north, the north line of the present town
of Laurens; on the east, a line running generally
northeast through a point about three-quarters of
a mile east of "Shadyside" in the present town
of Oneonta; on the south, the Susquehanna
river; on the west, a line that, beginning at the
mouth of the Otsdawa, followed that stream up
to the junction of the two branches, thence up
the west branch about one mile, thence nearly
west to the Flax Island creek, thence northeast
about the same distance to the southeast corner of
Lot No. 17, Otego patent, thence nearly west to the
History of Otego 31
town line near the Center Brook church, thence
northeast to the north line of the town of Laurens,
following the west line of Otego and Laurens.
The records of Old Otego are in the Town
Clerk's office at Oneonta, and the minutes of the
first town meeting are as follows:
"The first Town Meeting agreeable to appoint-
ment of the Legislature was held at Trumon
Harrison's, April ye 5th., 1796:
When the following officers were elected — viz:
1st. Butler Gilbert— Supor.
2nd. Jacob Butts— T. Clk.
3rd. Zar Benedict \
Samuel Cook Assessors.
Jonathan Tickner )
4th. Jonathan Johnson \
Ezra Barton. Com. Hways.
George Scramling |
5th. Job Straight ^ p^^^ ^^^^^^^
Samuel Sleeper \
6th. Jacob Butts \
Grififin Craft Coms. of Schools.
Levy Jenks |
7th. Aaron Harrington \
Samuel Green Constables.
Nathaniel Spencer )
8th. Wm. Draper— Collector
Bondsmen : Charles Eldred, Sam. Cook,
Stoton Alger. Job Straight
9th. Ezra Barton — Pound Keeper
10th. Perry G. Ellsworth \
Joseph H. Sleeper j Fence Viewers
Ebenezer Rice )
Twenty-one Path Masters were elected.
32 History of Otego
Voted that Hogs should be confined, and not
run at large.
Voted this town would give five Pounds for
every grown Wolf's scalp.
Also voted that each Pathmaster make a return
of each man's real and Personal estate with their
names — and nominate an overseer for the ensuing
year at the Town meeting for 1797."
At a town meeting held 1 March, 1808 "Voted
that $5.00 be raised for the purpose of erecting
stocks in this town."
Laurens was formed from the northern part
of the town in 1810. The Legislature was pe-
titioned to form a new town from the southern
part of Milford and the eastern part of Old Otego,
to be called Oneonta. The western part of Old
Otego objected, and sent two men to Albany to
oppose the measure. A compromise was made
by which the western part was annexed to the
small town of Huntsville, and this new town was
called Otego. Thus in 1830 were formed the
present towns of Oneonta and Otego.
In 1813 Old Otego is described as follows:
"Otego — a Post township of Otsego County, 20
miles southwest of Cooperstown and 86 a little
southwest of Albany, bounded North by Laurens,
East by Milford, Southeast by the Susquehanna
River or the County of Delaware, West by Una-
dilla and Butternuts. Along the Susquehanna
River are extensive and fertile fiats. The re-
maining part is broken and hilly, though its
valleys are rich and together with the arable hills,
and meadow and grazing lands, afford a good
proportion of farming lands. Otego Creek, a
History of Otego 33
small but good mill stream that rises in Exeter,
runs south across the east part to the Susque-
hanna River; this is sometimes though erro-
neously spelled Atega; its course may be near
28 miles. There are some other smaller streams.
Rafts and boats descend the Susquehanna to
Baltimore, and there are fine groves of timber.
There are two grain mills, four saw mills, and
two fulling mills. In 1810 the population of
Otego which included that also of the present
town of Laurens was 2512 with 216 electors,
348 taxable inhabitants, and 216,647 dollars of
taxable property. My correspondents compute the
present population exclusive of Laurens at 1000,
and that of Laurens 1512. A turnpike from Al-
bany to Oxford and the West leads across this
town, and it has other roads."
According to Harvey Baker Old Otego had in
1820 1416 inhabitants, 286 electors, 366 farmers,
47 mechanics, one slave, 10 schools, 9,409 acres
of improved land, 1,646 cattle, 276 horses, 4,454
sheep, one grist mill, 9 saw mills, one fulling mill,
one carding-machine, one iron-works, and made
14,983 yards of domestic cloth.
The records of Old Otego show that in Septem-
ber 1822 a detailed school report was made, which
showed that there were 414 children between the
ages of five and fifteen years. The commission-
ers reported that the books most in use in the
common schools were —
Spelling books — Webster's and Columbian.
Arithmetics — Pike's and Daboll's.
Geographies — Murry's and Webster's.
Dictionaries — Walker's and Perry's.
The Period Before the Revolution
HALSEY says that two Dutchmen passed down
the Susquehanna in 1614 or 1615, and that in
1616 the headwaters of the river were visited by
Stephen Bruehle. During the Dutch and the
early English rule many traders and others came
into the valley. Between 1720 and 1730 three
or four companies of German Palatinates passed
down the river into Pennsylvania. The valley
was soon recognized and used as an important
highway. Sir William Johnson began to wield
his influence. After the first explorers came the
representatives of the Church, first the Jesuits,
then the men of the Church of England, and
finally the missionaries from New England.
Prominent among the last was Gideon Hawley.
In 1683 the Susquehanna territory above Wya-
lusing. Pa. was conveyed by the Indians to the
English. Thus was thwarted the ambition of
William Penn, whose agents were negotiating for
the territory. In May 1751 Sir "William John-
son and Company" had some correspondence
with Gouldsbrow Banyar, Secretary of the Prov-
ince of New York, concerning a tract of 100,000
acres on both sides of the Susquehanna, from the
Charlotte to the Pennslyvania line, extending one
mile back from the river on each side. Within
a few months the Company purchased the tract
from the Indians for about $1500, and it is said
that a patent for the same was granted them the
History of Otego 35
same year. The Treaty of Fort Stanwix was
signed in 1768, fixing the boundary between the
Indians and the English. The line crossed the
Susquehanna at its confluence with the Unadilla.
By the terms of the treaty all the land west of
this line was Indian property. On 21 March
1770 Sir William Johnson and his associates set
forth that they had petitioned for 100,000 acres
from the Charlotte to the line of the Pennsyl-
vania Grant or Patent; that they had purchased
this tract from the Indians; that they now (after
the Fort Stanwix treaty) desired only a part of
this tract; and that they prayed for not over 54,-
000 acres in two or more patents. On 8 May
1770 a grant of 26,000 acres along the Charlotte
was made to Sir William Johnson and some of his
associates. The rest of the 54,000 acres was
granted on 16 June 1770 to twenty-eight other
associates of Johnson in a separate patent. This
was what has been known as the Wallace patent.
The township of Otego comprises parts of three
patents of land that were granted by the Crown—
the Morris, the Wallace and the Otego patents.
The Morris patent, dated 1768, was granted
to Staats Long Morris, a British officer, who
afterwards became governor of Quebec. In 1785
the State was appealed to for a new grant to
other members of the family, and this was is-
sued the following year.
36 History of Otego
The Wallace patent, granted as described above,
comprised 28,000 acres along the Susquehanna
between the mouth of the Charlotte and the
mouth of the Unadilla, extending one mile back
from the river on each side. At the head of the
list of patentees was the name of Alexander Wal-
lace. He and his brother Hugh were prominent
merchants in New York, and uncompromising
Tories. The name of Hugh Wallace does not
appear in this list. It is, however, probable that
he was "the real Wallace at first interested, and
that another interested person and eventually the
sole one, was Gouldsbrow Banyar," who became
one of New York state's greatest land holders
Greed for land had become so great that one
thousand acres was the limit that one man might
receive from the Crown. "Accommodating
friends acted as fictitious owners, and promptly
made over to the real persons in interest the titles
granted in their names." This was probably the
method used in the case of the Wallace patent.
On 7 July, following the granting of the patent,
fourteen of the original patentees conveyed by
deeds to Gouldsbrow Banyar, each his share,
amounting to 14,000 acres. Within the next four
years Hugh Wallace and Gouldsbrow Banyar,
neither of whose names appears in the original
list of patentees, sold to four persons over 2000
acres from the patent. 1779 the Wallaces with
many others "were attainted of treason, their es-
tates were to be confiscated and they proscribed."
Gouldsbrow Banyar narrowly escaped their fate.
The half of the patent owned by Hugh Wallace
reverted to the State, from which it was later
History of Otego 37
bought by Henry Livingston and Abraham Lan-
sing. On 11 September 1787 these two owners
and Banyar, owner of the other half, came to a
division of lots, and the latter received as his
share about 16,350 acres.
The patent was surveyed in 1770 by Alexander
Golden, and again in 1773 by William Cockburn
and John Wigram. No land was sold from the
patent during the Revolution. After the war
some lots were sold outright; others were leased
for a term of years at a rent of a certain num-
ber of bushels of wheat per annum. Many of
the old lines between the lots are yet marked,
in whole or in part, by fences, running from the
river on each side.
The patent has been known by other names
than the Wallace patent. It was commonly called
the Sir William Johnson Tract. In 1801 it is
called a "tract of land patented to Gouldsbrow
Banyar and others." In 1815 it is spoken of as
"Johnson's Mile on the river." In a deed of 1830
it is called the "patent granted to Wallace, John-
son and others."
There is a tract of 1000 acres in the Wallace
patent about the mouth of the Otego creek, about
which there has been much speculation. It be-
longed to Sir William Johnson before his death
in 1774. It was called his "Dreamland Tract,"
tradition saying that it had been given him, be-
cause of a dream that he had, by King Hen-
dricks of the Mohawks. The author has made
a special effort to trace the early history of this
piece of land, but has been only partially success-
ful. It was sold by Hugh Wallace and Goulds-
38 History of Otego
brow Banyan to Sir William Johnson between
1770 and 1773. The reason why Johnson desired
and bought this bit of land at this place is ob-
scure, but would be the most interesting thing
about it. On 5 March 1776 it was conveyed by
John Johnson, son of Sir William, to George
Scramling and Adam Young. The late Allen
Scramling told the author that this tract of 1000
acres, 800 of which was on the north side and
200 on the south side of the river, all finally
came into the Scramling family, and was pos-
sessed by the three brothers as follows: What is
known as the John Van Woert place and the
west 100 acres on the south side of the river
were owned by David; the land west of this
place «nd also north on the Otego creek was
owned by Henry, the west line of his holdings
being the west line of what is known as the
Nelson Cole place; what is known as the Peter
Van Woert farm, where Roberts and Tyler live,
and the other 100 acres on the south side of the
river were owned by George. The later his-
tory of the tract is very complex.
The Otego patent of 69,000 acres was issued
3 February 1770 to Charles Reade, Thomas
Wharton and sixty-seven others. It comprised
what is now the town of Laurens, the greater
portions of the towns of Milford, Oneonta and
Otego and a small part of the town of Morris.
It was surveyed by Richard Smith and Richard
Wells in 1779, and in this year with Joseph
Brant as guide they made a tour of the Susque-
hanna valley. Smith, who was a frequent visitor
to the Otego valley, was a patentee for 4000
History of Otego 39
acres of this patent on both sides of the Otsdawa
a few miles above its mouth. The patent has also
been called the Otsego patent; it was sometimes
spoken of as the Burlington Township or Com-
pany, being composed of prominent men of Phila-
delphia and Burlington. The following has been
extracted and condensed from the original Let-
ters Patent — "George the Third by the Grace of
God of Great Britain, France and Ireland King
Defender of the Faith and so forth, To all to
whom these Presents shall come Greeting.
Whereas our loving subjects William Trent,
Charles Reade, Thomas Wharton Senior and
ninety-seven other Persons" * * * presented a
petition to "Sir Henry Moore Baronet, then our
Captain General and Governor in Chief of our
Province of New York and read in our Council
for our said Province" in March 1769. They said
that in October 1768, before the Fort Stanwix
treaty, they had at their "sole expense procured
the Indian proprietors hereof" to convey to them
all their right and title "to the land lying in the
County of Albany in the Province of New York
and in the Indian deed for the said lands described
as follows, that is to say: Beginning at the
South East corner of Hartwick Patent or Tract
of land, on the West side of the River Susque-
hanna, thence down the said River Susquehanna
according to the several courses thereof to the
mouth of Adiga or Otago Creek; thence Westerly
eight miles; thence Northerly to the South West
corner of a tract of land lately purchased of the
Indians by George Croghan Esquire and others;
thence along the line of the said Croghan's tract
40 History of Otego
to the South West corner of Hartwick Patent or
Tract; thence Easterly along the line of the said
Hartwick's Patent or Tract to the place of begin-
ning on the River Susquehanna, containing by es-
timation one hundred thousand acres, be the same
more or less." "The Petitioners and their asso-
ciates were desirous to cultivate and improve the
Tract so purchased," and wanted a patent. The
tract that could be patented was found to con-
tain only 69,000 acres, with the usual highways
allowed, and sixty-nine of the original petitioners
then "prayed" for that amount. William Trent
was absent at that time in England, and was not
among them. Each was granted 1000 acres, more
or less, over which he was to have complete con-
trol; but "all mines of Gold and Silver and also
all white or other sorts of Pine Trees fit for Masts
of the growth of twenty-four inches diameter and
upwards at twelve inches from the Earth for
Masts in the Royal Navy" were reserved. The
rent was to be paid every year forever to the
Crown at the Custom House in New York to the
Collector or Receiver "on the Feast of the An-
nunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary commonly
called Lady Day." The yearly rent was two shil-
lings and six pence sterling for each and every
hundred acres of the above granted lands, and so
in proportion for any lesser quantity thereof, ex-
cepting such as was allowed for highways. With-
in three years the tract must be so settled that
"it should amount to one family for every thou-
sand acres, and within that time at least three
acres for every fifty that are capable of cultivation
must be planted and effectually." The land re-
History of Otego 41
verted to the Crown if the terms of the patent
were not complied with. * * * "Witness our said
trusty and well beloved Cadwallader Golden Es-
quire, our said Lieutenant Governor and Com-
mander in Chief of our said Province of New
York, and the Territories depending thereon in
America, at our Fort in our City of New York
the Third day of February in the year of our
Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy
and in our Reign the Tenth."
Otego During the Revolution
DURING the Revolution the Susquehanna was
a noted thoroughfare. In this period the chief
events were a few of the causes that led to the
Sullivan Expedition and the passage of Clinton's
army down the river.
Colonel John Harper with a regiment of mi-
litia went down the Susquehanna on the ice in
the winter of 1776-7. Early in the summer of
1777 Joseph Brant arrived at Unadilla, and drove
the settlers from the valley. General Nicholas
Herkimer with about 380 men passed down the
river in June of this year, and in July held con-
ference with Brant near Sidney. This is said
to be the last time that the Iroquois were ever
met in council as a nation. Two members of
Herkimer's expedition were Henry Scramling, 2nd
Lieut. 1st. Battalion, and Daniel Ogden, 2nd.
Lieut. 5th. Battalion. The expedition was not
successful. Unadilla was burned by Butler's
army; and on 11 November 1778 occurred the
massacre at Cherry Valley, the Indians passing
up and down the river on their terrible mission.
Then came the Sullivan Expedition. General
James Clinton dammed the Susquehanna at the
lake, and, on the swell caused by breaking the
dam, passed down the river. It is said that the
sudden rising of the water in the summer filled
the Indians with superstitious fear. General
Clinton left the lake 9 August 1779 with about
History of Otego 43
1800 men and 220 boats. The soldiers marched
along the river bank, while invalids, baggage and
provisions were carried in the boats. The fol-
lowing are some extracts taken from those Jour-
nals of the Sullivan Expedition that refer to this
vicinity — ■
Journal of Lieut. Erkuries Beatty:
Wensday, 11th. — Today we crossed a large
creek, called Otego, and passed several old Indian
encampments where they had encamped when
they were going to destroy Cherry Valley or re-
turning likewise we passed one of their encamp-
ments yesterday. We encamped tonight at Og-
den's farm and a very bad encamping ground.
Thursday, 12th. — March'd of this morning 7
o'clock, had the advanced guard today proceeded
down the West side of the river as usual.
Journal of Lieut. William McKendry:
Aug. 11. — Embarked 7 o'clock A. M. proceeded
without much trouble as far as Ogden's farm and
encamped on the right of the River — 25 Miles
by water and 15 by land this day. The land very
fine at this place. The land in general by the
sides of this River when one side is good the
other is barren. The Gen'l. ordered each officer
one Quart of Rum and one gill to each other
man. (He figures that when they reached Og-
den's farm they had come 63 miles by water and
36 by land.)
Journal of Rudolphus Van Hovenburgh:
Valkenburgh Place August 11 — Decamped &
Loaded our Baggage and proceeded on our March
as far as two miles below an Indian place called
Otago which was computed to be twenty miles.
44 History of Otego
Sisquehanna River, Otago, August 12 — We
decamped at about fife in the morning and pro-
ced. on our march as far as Unedelly.
On leaving Ogden's farm (the place set-
tled by Daniel (?) Ogden, which is now occupied
by Hiram Northup) it was ordered "that the
boats be started three abreast and the whole at
a close distance, the river having become broad
enough to admit doing so." Clinton joined Gen-
eral Sullivan's forces at Tioga Point.
No survey was made of the Clinton route, but
it is shown on a map made in 1778 by Captain
William Gray of the 4th. Pa. Reg't. Part of the
Susquehanna is shown on this map, and flowing
into it from the east are marked the Charlotte
and the Aleout, and between these the "Middle
Creek." It is probable that the "Middle Creek"
is the Otego, and that Captain Gray made a mis-
take when he drew it entering the river from the
east. A path along the north bank of the river
is also indicated.
In October 1780 Sir John Johnson with 800
men passed up the river to destroy the fort and
settlement at Schoharie. They were foiled in their
attempt by the watchfulness of Timothy Murphy.
The passage of Clinton's army and the work
of the Sullivan Expedition made the valley for-
ever safe from Indian attack; but the little set-
tlements on the upper Susquehanna perished in
the struggle of war. The Indians, in good faith
allies of the English, lost their homes forever.
BEFORE the Revolution the only settlers of
whom there is any record were the Ogdens. W.
V. Huntington, who furnished the historical data
for the 1903 Atlas of Otsego County, told the
author that in about the year 1778 S. Allen built
a house on the cross road above Otsdawa and
lived there with his son Eastwood. Running
short of provisions the father left his son alone
in the wilderness and started on foot for food.
He found his son safe on his return, but soon
removed to New Jersey. There he staid till the
close of the war, when he returned to the Otego
valley. The approximate site of his house is
given as about half a mile north of the Perry
schoolhouse (No. 9) on Mill creek. It is, how-
ever, more probable that it was near where Frank
At the close of the war there was not a set-
tler in the Wallace patent. Adam Kalden built
a log house near the center of the present vil-
lage of Otego in 1783, according to Child's Di-
rectory. About 1787 the tide of immigration be-
gan to come in. The first settlements were along
the river and on its south side. It is to be marked
that the first settlers were of Dutch and Ger-
man extraction from Albany and Schoharie coun-
ties and the Mohawk valley. Among them are
found such names as Winn, Mericle, Scramling,
47 History of Otego
Calder, Snouse, Wiles, Vanderweriker, Hess,
Overhuyser, Quackenboss, Bovie, Brimmer and
Youmans. These settlers took possession of the
fertile river land because they came first and
because they were at home only on low land
along the water. A story by the late Allen
Scramling may partially explain. "The Devil
once took the New Englander up on a high hill
overlooking all this region, and offered him the
the river land if he would serve him, the Devil,
as master. The New Englander refused. The same
offer on the same conditions was made to the
"Dutchman," who, after a moment's considera-
tion, is reported to have said, 'Py Gott, I vill
do it.' " But the men from the East of English
and Scotch-Irish decent were not slow to come,
and the creeks were soon settled; for the land
was just as cheap, if not cheaper, and in addi-
tion the early settler believed that the better
timber showed better soil.
The early settlers were a motley crew — patri-
ots, Tories, pirates, refugees, and the early pop-
ulation, was constantly changing. Many were
squatters who took what they liked, and moved
when and whither they pleased — but their plea-
sure often coincided with compulsion. As late
as 1828 the settlers on the Lawrence and the
Banyar estates were notified that they must buy
the land that they had improved, or vacate.
Many were unable to pay, and were forced to
lose the labor of years. Some gained. One man
bought one hundred thirty-five acres, and routed
out six tenants, all of whom had pretty well
cleared the land. To show their disrespect for
History of Otego 47
Banyar a song was composed, one verse of which
was as follows —
"Now to the West we will repair
And wash our face in sweat and tears,
With savages to take our fare.
With catamount, hedgehog and bear,
More human far than Banyar."
Indeed many did go West for this reason, or
because the timber was becoming scarce, or be-
cause they had become unpopular members of
the community. Thus have many of the early
names disappeared from the town. But it is
remarkable how many men still live on the land
that their ancestors settled and cleared, in some
cases over a hundred years ago.
The Ogdens were of English origin, and came
to Otego in 1774 or 1775. The author has made
a special effort to secure fuller information about
these settlers, but has been unable to do
so. There are said to have been three
brothers, and their names were probably —
Daniel, who settled the place now occu-
pied by Hiram Northup; David, who settled in
a little log house on what is known as the Sigs-
bee farm; John, who is mentioned in all lists of
Revolutionary soldiers of Otego, and who, for
some reason, ran away over a hundred years ago.
48 History of Otego
There was a Richard Ogden; but he seems to
have settled in the Otego valley. It is, however,
probable that only one of the brothers settled
here at the above date, and that he returned with
the others after the Revolution. This brother,
probably Daniel, had a son named David, whose
experiences are related below. Halsey says that
the Ogdens were well known to Brant before the
war, and that Brant was familiar with their Otego
The following is a synopsis of "A True Narra-
tive of the Capture of David Ogden among the
Indians in the time of the Revolution" —
David Ogden was born in Fishkill, Dutchess
county of American parents in 1764. When he
was a mere child, the family removed to Water-
ford, Saratoga county, and thence to the wild
regions of the Susquehanna, to a place eighteen
miles below Colliers, a noted location in new
country times. Here the family remained two
years, when the war broke out.
Brant was at Unadilla, and sent word to Og-
den's father that, if he did not immediately join
him against the rebels, he would take his oxen,
cow, etc., and make him and his family pris-
oners. An Indian, called "Yaup" (probably a
corruption of Jacob) because he could talk
"Dutch," whom Ogden had befriended, traveled
all night up the river to warn Ogden of his
danger and immediately returned, having told
Brant that he was going on a hunt. The family
packed their clothing and bedding in a canoe,
which David, then twelve years old, and his
father paddled up the river. The mother and a
History of Otego 49
younger brother drove the oxen and their only
cow along the Indian trail on shore. In two days
they all arrived at the foot of the lake where they
camped. On the third day after leaving home
the mother waded the river and struck off over
the hill east of Cooperstown, while the rest started
up the lake in the canoe. The family camped
at Newtown Martin (now Middlefield) for two
days. They remained three days at the log house
of Daniel McCoUom, three miles distant; and in
another deserted house near by they remained a
season. In November 1778, on the receipt of
alarming news from Unadilla, they went to
Cherry Valley, arriving in the night, where Colonel
Campbell gave them his kitchen for shelter.
After being here a few days the father went back
to Newtown Martin on a scouting expedition.
While he was gone, the alarm came to Cherry
Valley. The mother fled with her four small
children through the snow and rain to the Mo-
hawk, where she was later joined by her hus-
band. All the family escaped the massacre.
The next spring David, then fourteen years old,
volunteered in the Revolution, his father at about
the same time being orderly sergeant. His first
two enlistments were for three and then nine
months; but before their expiration, he had en-
listed for all the war. The records show that
he was mustered in in September 1780. He
saw Major Andre hanged in that year, and
wintered in Fort Stanwix. On 2 March 1781
he was taken prisoner by the Indians and
Tories under Brant, who, on being told that
one of the prisoners was David Ogden, said,
50 History of Otego
"What, the son of the old beaver hunter, that
old scouter; ugh, I wish it was him instead of
you, but we will take care of his boy or he may
be a scouter too." The prisoners were led through
the wilderness, suffering much hardship, to Fort
Niagara. Soon after their arrival. David was
adopted by an old squaw named Gun-na-go-let,
who gave him the name of Chee-chee-la-coo,
chipping bird. After being in captivity for about
two years he was taken to Oswego, where he
became acquainted with a certain Danforth who
had been taken at Cherry Valley. The two fin-
ally managed to escape together and reached Fort
Herkimer. Thence David went to Fort Plain, and
finally to where his parents lived in Schoharie
county, at a place called Warrensbush. He was
scarcely eighteen years old, and had been two
years and about four months in absolute slavery.
He enlisted in the war of 1812, and saw Captain
Elisha Saunders fall in the Battle of Queens-
town. The engagement lasted twelve hours.
Ogden was in the thickest of the fight, two bul-
lets passing through his clothing. Forty of his
company were either killed or wounded.
This David Ogden settled at Treadwell where
the above sketch was written by him some time
before his death on 30 October 1840. He had
a son, David, and grandsons, Chauncey, Linus
The South Side of the River
THE place now owned and occupied by Or-
lando Quackenbush was settled by Ebenezer Rice
from the Mohawk, who had cleared fifteen acres
here before 1807. He moved to Ohio, but later re-
turned to live on the Otsdawa. Before 1819 Isaac
Quackenbush, grandfather of the present owner,
of Dutch descent from Albany county, occupied
the farm, living first in a log cabin near the river.
The old soldier later had built for himself the
little frame house which is now joined to the
present dwelling. Jacob was one of his seven
children. The old saw mill on the place was built
by George D. Scramling.
The first settler on the place of the late Ste-
phen Northup, son of Robert, now occupied by
his widow, Lucinda, and two of his sons, was
Gilbert Smith, who was here before 1793. John
Brimmer from Rensselaer county bought the
place from Stephen Andrews in 1797. Brimmer's
first house was of logs and stood a little west of
the frame house that he later built north of the
road and in which Caroline Northup lived. At
his death Brimmer owned also the greater part
of the Hurlbut farm. His daughter Hannah,
who had maried Robert Northup, inherited his
original farm; his son Aaron came into posses-
sion of the latter place and built the present house
where he lived until he sold to Harmon B. Hurl-
The first settler on the place owned and occu-
52 History of Otego
pied by Burdette Hurlbut, grandson of Harmon
B., was William French, who came from Massa-
chusetts at about the same time as Henry Shep-
herd — possibly the year before. He was living
here as late as 1801. A century ago this place
was largely owned by Elisha Shepherd and
Wheeler French. In 1815 Cornelius Mericle
from Schoharie county bought ninety acres of
this place near the river. Many years ago revival
meetings were held in his barn, and many were
baptized at the head of the smaller island, oppo-
site the stone house. The whole farm later came
into the hands of the Brimmers.
Menus Goodrich was the first settler on the
place owned and occupied formerly by William
Dewey, later by George Wescott, now by Charles
Averill, before 1793. Very near him, and prob-
ably nearer the schoolhouse, settled Wait Good-
rich. Very little can be learned about this fam-
ily, although many of them settled early on this
side of the river. Before 1819 Henry Bovie had
moved here from the farm of the late Allen
Scramling, and erected the present buildings. He
moved to Union, N. Y. Near here once lived
The vicinity of the stone house was in early
time a favorite place for settlement. Here be-
fore the Revolution settled the Ogdens. Henry
Shepherd came from Massachusetts in the spring
of 1787 and settled near here and had a ferry.
But the stone that is pointed out as his door-
step is almost in the southeast corner of Charles
Averill's farm. He had seven children. Con-
radt Wiles, brother of "Jose" and "Hans," once
History of Otego S3
lived in a log house where is now the stone
house. Then came Ransom Hunt, Jr. Ezra, son
of Samuel, Gates, who built the stone house
about 1830, sold the place to Peter Scramling.
Later here were Job Mills; Emmet Rathbun;
Jacob Hilsinger. The place is now owned and
occupied by Hiram Northup.
The Foote place, at present an unoccupied part
of the Hale property, derives its name from Elias
Foote of Connecticut, who came here from
Franklin in about 1811. He traded with Levi
Hale for a place in North Franklin.
John Brimmer's old house served as the first
schoolhouse in district No. 7. Debora Blakeslee
and David Foote were two early teachers. The
second schoolhouse was built about 1830 on a
site given by Peter Scramling. It was burned in
the summer of 1905, and immediately replaced
by the present structure. In the school year
1866-7 Maria Scramling was the teacher, and the
pupils numbered twenty-six.
What is called the Nicholas Sigsbee farm, now
owned by Mrs. H. E. Bugden, was first settled
by David Ogden. It was bought by John Snouse
of Canajoharie in 1800. Fifteen years later he
moved down to the Baker farm where he is said
to have kept a tavern. Then came Peter, son of
Henry, Scramling, who lived in a log house on
the little knoll southeast of the schoolhouse. He
was followed on the place by his son George.
John Snouse was a famous hunter, as well as
soldier. He was taken from the settlement at
old Schoharie by the Indians and carried a captive
to Canada where he was held a prisoner for three
54 History of Otego
years before he managed to escape. He could
speak the Indian language; and was famed for
making the early rude plows. A pair of tongs,
made by "Old Mr. Snouts," as he was called, are
owned by Mrs. H. J. Hurlbut in Oneonta. Years
ago near the corner of the roads by the swamp
Jake Cutting had a blacksmith shop.
Ninety years ago the place owned and recently
occupied by George Hughston was occupied by
Robert and Benedict Northrup. The latter sold
to his brother and moved to Addison, N. Y. Af-
ter Robert Northrup had moved to the river the
place was occupied by his sons Hiram and John.
Later came Russell Murry. Samuel Clegg bought
the place from Ira Bovie. The first settler here
was Cyporon Tracy.
The farm owned and occupied by Charles
Hughston was in 1795 occupied by Alexander
Smith. Ansel Ward bought it from Milo Smith,
and lived here about forty years.
The first settlers on the present Edwin Blakely
farm were Peter and Elisha Bundy, brothers from
Montgomery, Mass. They came in the spring
of 1787, the year of the great famine among the
settlers on the Susquehanna. Here they spent
their first night in town, struck their first blow
at the "monstrous big timber" and built their
cabins close to the river. Peter Bundy was here
six years later, but both brothers soon moved to
the Otsdawa. It is said that Peter Bundy first
came into Otsego county with William Cooper,
who urged him to settle near the lake; but Bundy
was interested in the timber, and went farther
History of Otego 55
down the river to get deeper water for rafting.
Here he built his cabin, and fetched his family the
next year. The name Bundy is thought to be
derived from the forest of Bondy near Paris,
France, the "Bundys" being among the adven-
turers who accompanied William the Conqueror
to England and who subsequently turned farm-
ers and settled in Kent. The name is frequently
spelled Bonda in local records, but the form
Bondy does not occur in this vicinity.
The upper part of the Blakely farm and the
strip of land abutting it on the east, of which
what is known as the Peter Mickle place is a
part, was a lot that was sold by Gouldsbrow
Banyar to Henry Klock in 1801. Within five
years Klock had moved to Chenango county,
having sold the part nearer the river to Houtice
Smith and the remainder to John Snouse. The
whole tract finally passed into the hands of
Peter Scramling. At his death Scramling's large
landholdings on this side of the river were divided
among his eight children. To-day none are pos-
sessed by any of his descendants. The house on
the so-called Mickle place was built by Alfred
Hess about forty-five years ago. Peter Mickle
bought the place in 1888 from John Williams, and
it is now occupied by Fred Eliot. Eighty-five
years ago the upper part of the Blakely place was
occupied by John A. Hodge; it was bought from
the Scramling heirs by William Stuart of Madi-
son county in 1851. A century ago the lower
part of the Blakely farm was occupied by Philo
Goodrich, who built the house there that was
burned in 1887; about 1830 a man named Green-
56 History of Otego
slate lived there; Stuart bought it from Aris-
tarchus Mann in 1851.
Seventy-five years ago on the Blakely farm,
back on the mountain beside the old road, lived
George Northrup and his son Samuel. A little
way above them lived Asel Bennett.
The upper part of the W. H. Baker farm was
sold by Gouldsbrow Banyar to John Wattles, who
had left the place before 1822. Then came
David and Russell Blakeslee. About seventy
years ago this part was bought by John, son of
Robert, Rathbun from Harvey B. Redfield,
brother-in-law of Russell Blakeslee. The first
settler on the lower part of the Baker farm was
Asahel Packard, a Revolutionary soldier, who
came from Massachusetts a short time after
Henry Shepherd; within a few years he had
moved to the Otsdawa. In 1815 John Snouse
bought fifteen acres of this lower part from John
T. Smith, which he sold nine years later to Ja-
cob and Levi Han. The Hans lived south of the
road where there are yet traces of an old cellar.
In 1827 Isaac Abbey sold the entire lower part
to Osborne L. Knapp of the Butternuts. Knapp
lived in a log house near the present big barn.
W. H. Baker bought the upper and the lower
parts of this farm from William T. Broadfoot and
Riley Sessions respectively.
The farm now occupied by R. A. Wykes was
bought by John Christian from Gouldsbrow Ban-
yar in 1793. Christian or Christjohn, whom F.
W. Edson calls John Christjohn "Wiles," was
a German, had two brothers, and lived over on the
hill west of the present house. In 1816 Andrew
History of Otego 57
Hodge was living on the place, and a few years
later, Daniel Swift. Jabez Holmes, who built
the present house, sold the farm in 1856 to George
and Samuel Northrup mentioned above.
Before 1800 the old John Hubbell farm had
been leased to Johannis Lust and Godfrey Calder;
but they were not permanent. In 1810 the land
was purchased by James Christian, and it later
came into the possession of the Hubbells. The
upper part of this tract, owned by R. A. Wykes,
is unoccupied. The lower part is known as the
Cyrus Hunt place from a former resident owner;
here once lived Jacob Han.
The land to the west was a century ago owned
by Ashbel Goodrich. He sold the greater part
to Stephen Northrup, brother of Robert, Benedict
and George. Northrup had been a sailor on
the high seas during the troubled times that pre-
ceded the war of 1812. To the place on the
corner where the house was burned came in 1834
Jacob Pratt and his son Sidney. The farm
now owned and occupied by Hector Mitchell was
early occupied by Ransom Hunt, Jr., who was
followed by his son John.
Joseph Northrup, Sr., of Lanesboro, Mass., a
soldier of the Revolution, came in 1803, leasing
what is called the S. K. Stiles place, now owned
and occupied by M. S. Carey.
The strip of land next below, now owned by
Van. B. Smith and unoccupied, was leased by
Robert Rathbun of Rhode Island, who came in
1801. Jason Goodrich lived there sixty years ago.
The farm now owned and occupied by Alonzo
Judd had two early occupants — on one part was
58 History of Otego
Samuel Northrup, a soldier of 1812, father of the
four brothers above mentioned, who came from
North Kingston, R. I. before 1801. On the other
part was Captain Ezekiel Tracy, originally from
Massachusetts, who came hither from the farm
of the late Allen Scramling farther up the river.
Tracy had eleven children. Other occupants of
this place have been Simeon Castle, who moved
to Briar Creek; Eli Starr; Addison Rathbun, who
bought from Jerome B. Youmans; Hiram Randall.
The Birdsalls, or Burchams as they were call-
ed, originally from Long Island, came from
Dutchess county. The family is said to
have settled first on the north side of the river.
In 1794 Squire was on the upper part of the
place now owned by Van. B. Smith, where Ste-
phen Bradley once lived; but within ten years
was living across the river. Timothy moved
from the north side of the river, and eighty-five
years ago was living on the lower part of Smith's
farm. He sold to Alexander Maxwell, and went
to live near his son-in-law John Smith. One hun-
dred ten years ago John lived on the place now
owned and occupied by R. A. Hoyt; but before
1813 had moved to the north side of the river.
He was followed on the place by his son Nathan;
then came his grandson Edwin.
The first school in this vicinity was taught by
Abigail Reed in Godfrey Calder's barn. The
first schoolhouse in this district stood a little way
below Alonzo Judd's, north of the road. Two
early teachers were Lemuel French and Albro
Bundy. The present schoolhouse, built by Eli
Starr, is the second in the district.
The North Side of the River
NINETY-FIVE years ago Jerry French and Ira
Carley were living in a clearing of two or three
acres on the place owned by the late William
White, now occupied by Joseph Rogers. They
were rafters, and got into serious trouble by
bringing back counterfeit money from Harris-
burg. The place was bought by John Tuckey and
Benjamin Soden in 1819. The former was sole
owner five years later. The Tuckeys were En-
glish. Their log house stood about where now
runs the railroad. Tuckey and Joseph, brother
of Benjamin, Soden worked at their trade of
thrashing with the flail. The present house was
built and first occupied by Harvey Strong of
On the place above in 1800 lived Laban Cran-
Jerry Carley once lived on the place now owned
and occupied by Charles Underwood. Then came
Tom Brewster, a negro fiddler. S. Green lived
here forty years ago.
Aaron Ferry is said to have been the first set-
tler on the old Moak place, now owned and occu-
pied by Mrs. K. E. Crandall. Ninety years ago
Robert Foster kept a tavern there. Deforest and
Deluson Warner, brothers from Connecticut,
bought this place and the Underwood farm be-
low, and continued the tavern. William Webster
60 History of Otego
lived here many years. Jacob Moak from Al-
bany county bought the place from Ely Dean.
Jerry French is said to have been the first on
the old William (son of John) Youmans farm,
now owned and occupied by George Rachard. In
1807 Jacob Gates was living here, and had im-
proved twelve acres.
The farm now owned and occupied by L. C.
Dodge, son of Harry, was first settled by John,
son of Colonel John, Harper, whose log house
was still standing forty years ago. Jesse Broad,
father-in-law of the present owner, came to the
place before 1821, and built the present house.
The original lessee of the next place was John
Kyle; but he never occupied it. Benjamin Bird-
sail was probably an early occupant. Later came
Henry Hoag. The place is now owned and
occupied by Henry Robbins
Charles Bouck lives on the place which Isaac
Gates had settled before 1797. Gates moved
to Briar creek, and William VanSlyke was the
next there. Later were Abner Ferry; Peter
Bundy, Jr., who built the present house; Thomas
John, son of Solomon, Youmans of German
descent, originally from Dutchess county, bought
his land from Gouldsbrow Banyar in 1805. He
was drafted in the War of 1812, but furnished a
substitute. He had ten children. The old tavern
that he kept was closed over eighty years ago,
and was converted into a hop-house. William
King, a kind old veteran of the Revolution, made
his home for a long time with John Youmans,
and on winter nights about the tavern fire would
History of Otego 61
tell his stories of the war. It seems that he had
been drum-major, and that it had been the pain-
ful duty of his office to administer whatever
floggings were ordered to be done with the cat-
o'-nine tails. What became of the old soldier
is unknown. The present house was built by
William Jay. The place is now owned by Clin-
ton Root and occupied by Lambert Burnside.
The Birdsall family, when they first came, are
said to have settled down under the knoll on the
place now owned and occupied by Earle Root.
A huge pine was felled and around the stump
they are said to have built their house, the stump
serving as a table. On this place in 1796 lived
Timothy Birdsall; later Daniel, son of Squire,
Birdsall, and then Daniel's brother-in-law, Ste-
phen Bradley. Bradley later lived and died
in the village. In 1805 Squire Birdsall was in
the immediate vicinity.
The place now owned and occupied by S. B.
Blakesley is said to have been first settled by a
man named Goodrich. Very early came Michael
Birdsall. Later here were Wheeler French, a
great hunter, who built the present house; Be-
nonai Cook of Dutchess county; Calvin Hyde.
A man named Acker once lived in this vicinity.
On the next lot above, over a century ago, lived
James Copley. Ninety years ago Harvey Strong
was here. The lot was later owned by Richard
and William Horning.
It is interesting to note how many of the same
or related families settled near one another.
Many of the older Birdsalls lived on this side of
the river. John, Timothy and Squire were
62 History of Otego
brothers. Of their sisters Anna was the mother
of Harry Dodge, Mary married John Youmans,
and Cynthia was the wife of Benonai Cook. Of
their half-brother's, Lemuel, children there were
Michael, Benjamin, Sally, wife of James Cop-
ley, and Abigail, who married John Harper. With
the Birdsalls compare, among others, the Sheldon
and the Hopkins families on the West Branch,
the Cooks and the Hatheways near Otsdawa, and
the Northrups and the Goodriches on the south
side of the river.
The first schoolhouse in this district (No. 2)
was a frame building, which stood just across the
Briar creek road, opposite the present site. The
second one was of stone, and was built on the
present property by Harry Sheldon and Clark
Hopkins in 1836. It stood till 1874. The pres-
ent schoolhouse, built by T. W. Snyder, is the
third one in the district.
The farm, formerly owned and occupied by Wil-
liam Brown, recently purchased by William Hugh-
ston, was first settled by John Vermilyea, a sol-
dier of the Revolution. He had two children.
He lived in a log house one hundred rods from
the river bank. Then, more than a century ago,
came Benjamin Birdsall, who built the present
house. He moved to the town of Unadilla.
Harry Dodge of Dutchess county had bought
and was living on the place before 1818. Many
years ago there was printed a description of the
old tavern that was once kept on this place. It
appears to have had anything but a savory rep-
Before 1820 Abram and Nicholas Horning were
History of Otego 63
living on the lower part of the place now owned
and recently occupied by John Leonard, and what
is known as the Harvey Brown place, now owned
by Alfred Sutton, respectively. Carlisle 01m-
stead was a later owner and occupant of the
present Leonard place.
Before 1815 the land from just above the
present Leonard house to the place settled by
John Smith had been leased by Gouldsbrow
Banyar to Nahum Smith of Massachusetts. On
the upper part of the present Leonard place, on
the flat beside the old road, he lived with his
father, David, a Revolutionary soldier. The place
now owned and occupied by W. J. Loomis has had
among others the following occupant-owners —
Elisha Kilborn ; Solomon Cunningham; Solomon
Baldwin. Luther, son of Wheeler, French is
said to have once lived there. The next place
above, now owned by George Sherman, Jr., was
early occupied by Squire Birdsall and his son
Harry. Here the former died.
John, brother of Nahum, Smith was born in
Massachusetts in 1788. When he became of age,
with his little bundle of earthly possessions and
an ax, he started on foot for New York state.
He settled on the farm lately owned and occu-
pied by his son Chauncey, now owned by the
latter's daughter, Mrs. Smith Bundy. Smith
leased his land from Gouldsbrow Banyar. His
father probably came later. He married Re-
becca, daughter of Timothy, Birdsall, who then
lived on the south side of the river. Her wedding
outfit was carried across to her new home in a
64 History of Otego
At the lower edge of Shepherds Corners in
1807 lived Samuel Fisk.
The place so long owned and occupied by
George, son of Michael, Birdsall, now occupied
by his daughter, Mrs. Harriet Stilson, was bought
from Gouldsbrow Banyar by Menus Goodrich one
hundred years ago. Six years later the latter
sold it to John Birdsall.
The house on the place now owned and occu-
pied by William Shepherd was built about ninety-
five years ago by Benjamin, son of Henry, Shep-
herd, who had bought the farm in 1801. He was
a brother of the present owner's grandfather.
Michael Birdsall, of Huguenot descent, came
from Harpersfield in 1802, and settled first in
a log house near the river as described above,
beside his brother Benjamin. In 1809 he bought
the lower part of his farm later owned and oc-
cupied by his son William, now by the latter's
son Webster, from Gouldsbrow Banyar. In 1794
the upper part of his farm was owned and occu-
pied by Zebulon Norton, who lived in a log house
on the river bank. This upper part came into
the possession of Michael Birdsall in 1811.
About 1812 he built the present house, where he
kept a tavern.
The place now owned and occupied by Thomas
Redding was first settled by a man named Hub-
bell. Adam Empey lived there in 1807. David
Blakely, probably Q(riginally from Pawlet, Vt.,
bought the place in 1811 from Michael Birdsall,
who at the same time bought the upper part of
the Birdsall farm from Blakely. They virtually
traded lots. Five years later Blakely moved fur-
History of Otego 65
ther up the river, selling to "Elder" John Morse.
The latter's son-in-law, Thomas D. Smith, came
to the place in 1836.
Mason W., son of James, Hughston came to
the village from Sidney in 1824, and lived first
in a double log house just above the Baptist
Daniel Weller came from Roxbury, Ct., in
1809, buying fifteen acres from Abram Blaklee
the next year. His house stood near the one
now owned and occupied by Dr. W. S. Cook.
The well in the yard is the old Weller well.
Daniel Weller was a pioneer blacksmith and his
large shop was just west of his house. He was
the first supervisor of the town of Huntsville,
continuing in office eight years. One of his daugh-
ters married Hudson Sleeper.
Abram Blaklee and Ransom Hunt, both from
Bennington, Vt., were "double" brothers-in-law.
They are said to have come to the town in 1799
to choose a location, when Blaklee built his frame
house, and then to have returned for their famil-
ies. At all events both were here before 1801.
Abram Blaklee's original landholdings were on
both sides of Main street, and extended from the
line of River street nearly to the Baptist church.
He was a saddler and a harness-maker. His
house stood near the street on the lot now owned
and occupied by W. H. Lines, whence it was
moved back to Willow street and was occupied
by the late Miss Alvira Chase. He had four
daughters. Blaklee is said to have come to Ver-
mont from Danbury, Ct., with Ransom Hunt from
66 History of Otego
Samuel Root and his son, Dr. Samuel, came
from Vermont before 1810. The Root property
was bounded by the river and what are now Main,
River and Averill streets, and was inherited by
James Follett, his son-in-law. The Root dwelling
stood near the brick house, now owned and oc-
cupied by Morgan Place, which was built by
Before 1803 Thaddeus R. Austin, a Connecti-
cut Yankee, was merchant in the old store of
Smith and Morey, which stood on the site of the
present Bowe block. In 1812 he built a new
store directly across the street, which is now
occupied by the postoffice. He also erected a
two-storied frame building on the site of the
Susquehanna House, in front of which was a
lawn with trees and a flower garden. The latter
was a great curiosity, for any but wild flowers
were then a rarity. Austin was said to be of
French descent. His brother, Roderick, who had
lived thirty years in France, came from "down
East way" to spend his declining years with his
brother. We can imagine him sitting in the lit-
tle country store maintaining a silence about his
past that none dared break. Rumor had it that
he had been a pirate on the seas. The truth is
that he had been a privateersman on a ship call-
ed "The True Blooded Yankee." An old man,
in 1852 T. R. Austin sold out his interests here
and started for Wisconsin, whither he had sent
his household goods. He was taken sick at Una-
dilla where he died, and was brought back and
buried in the town that he wished never to see
again. Austin was the promoter of many enter-
History of Otego 67
prises, "bought and sold everything and was the
agent for the Banyar estate." He was a very
aristocratic and dressy man, "noted for the mag-
nificence of his ruffled shirt bosoms." He is said
to have been a passenger on Fulton's steamboat
on its first trip up the Hudson river.
A few years after 1810 Daniel Lawrence, mer-
chant, built the store where Glen Poole now
trades, and a dwelling-house in the rear. He
moved to Buffalo. A later occupant of the store
was Ezra R. Brewer.
The first settler on the place later bought by
Ransom Hunt was Elijah Smith, who had opened
a tavern there before 1796. He moved to Ohio,
and Samuel (?) Yaw, who seems to have been
a sort of wandering innkeeper, played the host
in the same place. Then came Ransom Hunt
with his wife and four children. He bought his
land from Gouldsbrow Banyar, chiefiy. His log
tavern, possibly the one that Smith and Yaw had
used, stood a little south of the present Otego
House. Here in 1807 he built a long two-storied
frame hotel, which he kept for over thirty years.
The wagon-shop and sheds stood directly across
the street. Hunt's Hotel was the center of a
large sphere of influence, and here all kinds of
meetings were held. At the head of the Otsdawa
ravine Hunt built one of the first saw mills in
town, which, with a distillery near, was sold to
Ephraim Sleeper. He erected another saw mill
on "Saw Mill Hill," back of George Sherman's,
Jr., house. The small grist mill, which he built
on the site of the Jenning's Mill, was replaced by
a second, which he raised in a snow-storm on
68 History of Otego
8 June 1816. The present grist mill here was
built by Follett and French about 1850.
Jedediah Spicer was the first settler on the
place now owned and occupied by George Wilber.
Then came Ebenezer Rice. Albertus Becker
lived there in 1807. Later were Daniel Rowe,
who hanged himself in the barn; James Follett;
Levi French. The Spicers and Hazard Corey are
said to have come with Ransom Hunt. In 1819
Daniel Knapp, Jr., bought land south of the road,
where he ran a carding-machine and clothing-
works; his building still stands back of J. E. Tru-
"Rich old Mr. Norton" is said to have settled
early near the corner of the older Otsdawa road,
but soon moved to Genesee county. Philip Hel-
mer was near here in 1798. Ransom Hunt bought
the place, and later sold it to "Captain" Peter
Bundy, whose sons, Stephen A. and Gilbert S.,
kept a hotel there. This old Bundy Hotel, now oc-
cupied as a dwelling house by George Benedict,
was new eighty years ago. Across the road stood
its long red barns. William H. Seward once de-
livered an address from the hotel steps. South-
ern people with their fine carriages and their
slaves used to stop here, and this was the place
where the stage, that ran twice a day between
Unadilla and Emmons, changed horses. The
whole farm is now owned and occupied by Wil-
liam Van Name. On this farm are the rockb
from which the Indian maiden is said to have
taken her fatal leap.
Pefors \~99 Barnet Overhi-er had le-sed the
History of Otego 69
Day farm. About 1818 Henry Shader of Dutch-
ess county was living on the place. Oliver P.
Raymond once lived here. Robert Day came to
the farm about 1836, and it is now owned by his
granddaughters. Before 1809 Godfrey Calder
had come from the south side of the river and
settled on the hill.
Early on the next place but one was Dr. Warner
or Warren. Later here was Elisha Adams. The
place is now owned and occupied by Herbert
The Hale farm was settled by a family named
Hess. Frederick Hess conveyed the place to John
Hess in 1801; the latter in 1816 sold a portion
to James Blakeslee. In both conveyances men-
tion is made of the Indian paintings on the
rocks. The Hess family lived in a partly dug-
out dwelling on the north side of the road a
little way above the present house. Blakeslee
occupied the present lower tenant house, which
then stood just south of the road some distance
below its present site. Obadiah Blakeslee, his
nephew, lived here afterward, having moved from
near the upper tenant house. Other occupants
of this farm, as a whole or in part, have been
John Rathbun; Ezra Gates, who built a stone
house on the place; Albro Bundy; Gilbert Stan-
nard, who sold the farm to Levi Hale of North
Franklin in 1844. In this year the present house
was built. The Hales were originally from Con-
necticut. Ninety years ago the "Oxbow" was es-
timated to contain about fifteen acres. Some say
that it was from Hale's Rocks that the Indian
girl of the legend leaped to her death in plain
70 History of Otego
view of her father, who was on the opposite side
of the river.
Many years ago Bradley and Nathaniel Blakes-
lee lived on what was afterward known as the
Nelson Cole place, now owned by E. E. Clifford.
Bradley studied medicine and went west. Nathan-
iel built Mechanics Hall in the village. There
was once a "temperance" hotel kept on this
What is called the James Cole place, now
owned and occupied by E. E. Clifford, was first
settled by John Scramling, who lived in a log
house on the river bank, where afterwards lived
"Hans" Wiles. Scramling married a daughter
of "Rich old Mr. Norton," and followed his
father-in-law to the West. His relation to the
other Scramlings is unknown. Jacob Woolhart
once owned a few acres of this place. A man
named Dean once lived here.
Jonathan, father of Osborn L., Knapp had lo-
cated before 1811 on the place owned and occu-
pied formerly by William Hunt, now by Frank
Hunt. He kept a tavern in a log house on the
river bank. A later owner was Zephenia Cole,
who moved here from the vicinity of schoolhouse
No. 9 on Mill creek. Cole had large holdings in
this locality, and Nelson and James were his sons.
The first settler on the next place was John
Vanderwarker. The place was bought from him
by David Blakely, who lived here a long time
and built the present house. Blakely was a first
cousin of John Blakely. Later here was Reuben
Janes, and still later, Charles Miles. The place
History of Otego 71
is now owned by Frank Annable and occupied
by William Naylor.
The present schoolhouse in this district is the
third. The first one stood some distance below
the present site, south of the road, on land now
owned by Frank Hunt.
Over one hundred years ago John Winn was
living in a log house across the road from S. S.
Crandall. His father, Robt. E. Winn, is said to
have settled here immediately after the Revo-
lution. The family was related to the Scram-
lings, and well known on the Mohawk.
Ninety-five years ago Elijah Ferry was living
a few rods west of the Oneonta line, near where
the saw mill of Barnes and Fox stood in 1867.
Daniel Bird of Rhode Island was an early settler
in this immediate neighborhood, on the place now
occupied by Charles Weatherly.
THIS creek was settled later than other por-
tions of the town. The early settlers lumbered
the large amount of pine and hemlock. The first
saw mill was probably above the Glen, on land
now owned by A. C. Bennett. A dam and a mill
were built early by the Scramlings on the Q.
B. Parish place. This mill was later owned by
Ira and Reuben Parish, and Darius Ward was
their sawyer. There have been as many as six
saw mills on the creek at one time. The water-
power was generally poor; it required two mills
running day and night for a week to saw 24,000
feet of lumber. About eighty years ago there
were thirty-six log houses from the Glen to the
old Oxford turnpike. The last one was on the
place of Stoughton Horton. The oldest houses are
the Thomas house, the old dwelling on the Thayer
farm and the house where Clarence Cook lives.
A century ago the places now owned and occu-
pied by Frank Hunt and S. S. Crandall were cov-
ered with woods. The land about the mouth of
Mill creek was a part of the 1000 acre tract of
Sir William Johnson that passed into the hands
of the Scramlings. Other large holders here have
been John Winn, Zephenia Cole and Adam Horton.
The Q. B. Parish place was early bought by
Peter Scramling. In 1864 Ira and Reuben, sons
of Eldred, Parish sold the place to Adam Horton.
Before 1811 Adam Empey had a saw mill on
History of Otego 73
the place now owned and occupied by A. C. Ben-
nett. He probably moved here from the river,
buying from John Hornby of Great Britain, who,
at about this time, owned all the land from this
point nearly to the schoolhouse (No. 11). Others
on this farm have been Booth; Spaulding; Daniel
Washburn ; Royal Briggs.
Noah Wakely had a chopping on the creek in
1804, probably on the place of M. V. Briggs.
Later owners have been Zephenia Cole; Judson
and Parnett Beardsley; Adam Horton. In the
woods on Calder Hill, back of Briggs,' is what
is called the Brisee lot, now owned by Wood and
Phelps. Here once lived Henry Brisee. Near by
is an old cemetery.
Solomon Squires of Connecticut was on the
C. H. Broadfoot place before 1815. He sold
to Adam Horton, and moved to Laurens, and later
to the "Plains." The Squires and Hurlbut fami-
lies were fast friends, "whose tastes ran to clams."
Jesse Hurlbut came from Litchfield, Ct., to
Butternuts in 1815. About two years later he
came to the present Morris Hunt place, now oc-
cupied by Aaron Scott, buying through T. R.
Austin, agent. He had nine children.
The farm of Anson Hurlbut, now occupied by
John Herring, and that of Stoughton Horton,
farther up the creek, now occupied by Emmet Ter-
pening, were early owned by Thomas Rowe, who
lived in the village. Before 1821 he had sold
both to Nathan S. Hurd, his brother-in-law, who
in turn about 1839 sold them to Cornelius Liv-
ingston of Schoharie. The former place was
inherited by the latter's daughter; the latter, by
74 History of Otego
his only son, William, who lived there a long time.
John Hornby is said to have had a tannery
early on the place now occupied by George
Thomas. Ninety-five years ago Samuel Freeman
and his son Willet occupied the farm. To the
north were the lands of Samuel VanSlyke, and to
the South, those of Juston Hunt. Freeman had
been a sea-captain and had not forgotten the
forceful language used at sea. Judson Beards-
ley later owned the place, which then passed into
the hands of William Thomas.
Benjamin Knott was an early settler on the
property later owned and occupied by Amos Hurl-
but. The part east of the road, known as the old
Eli Starr farm, is owned by Walter Couse; the
part west of the road, by Gilbert Horton.
The first schoolhouse on Mill creek was of
logs and stood some distance south of the pres-
ent third one, in what is now district No. 11.
The second was a frame building and was erected
by Chester Thayer. Some early teachers were
James Bundy, Alonzo Eldred, Alanson Thomas,
David Cook and Amy Haight.
On the site of the present schoolhouse once
stood "Rowe's Barn," which was said to be
haunted. Cornelius Livingston dug under it to
find evidence of murder done. Reliable!?) wit-
nesses testified that they had heard strains of
music proceeding from the spot. The phenome-
non was supposed to be due to the ghost of a
murdered pedler, who had once been a member
of a band. Just above the schoolhouse in 1820
lived Jacob Neff; above him, in her log hovel
near the creek, lived "Old M's Tucker."
History of Otego 75
On the Beetle Hill road: Luther Focus, who
was migratory, once lived a little east of the
house on the place owned by Philip Hodges, oc-
cupied by Charles Emerson. Eighty years ago
Stephen Gould lived on the place now owned
and occupied by C. J. Herring.
Alanson Thomas came from Connecticut in
1830 and settled back on the hill on land now
owned by Henry Doliver. Later he bought the
place now owned and occupied by Elisha Trask,
and also the place of John Herring; on the
former he spent his last years. Alanson, Jr.,
bought the old Murry farm, now owned by Wal-
ter Hodges and occupied by Charles Short. Of
the Murrys there were several sons; the father
of all was Eldridge Murry.
Rufus Cook was on the property now owned
and occupied by Eli and Taylor Thayer more than
a century ago. In 1821 Noah Wakely lived here.
In 1824 Benjamin Butterfield's house stood near
the creek where there was a steam saw mill
twenty years ago. Chester, son of Asa, Thayer
bought the farm and lived in the old unoccupied
house now there. Cook later lived up in the
corner of the roads, where Norman Ellis recently
owned, near where Dennis Davis once lived.
The Stevens came from Connecticut and were
among the earliest on the creek. Moses Stevens,
a Revolutionary soldier, lived on the place now
owned and occupied by N. C. Terpening, west of
the road. Of his sons, Abiather lived just above,
on the same place, and Simon, where F. N.
Boyd owns and lives. Near the "Big Rock" or
76 History of Otego
"Wolf's Rocks," on the road that here turns off
to the east, Abiather Stevens was murdered.
The old Joseph Doliver farm included the places
now owned by F. H. Young, Hiram Wiles and
King J. Hatheway. The Delivers were from
Rhode Island. Joseph Doliver had four children.
His father, Joseph, was a Revolutionary soldier,
and is buried near West Oneonta.
John Empsey, a cooper, was an old settler
across the road from Orason Bowen's. Where
Bowen's house stands James O'Brien lived in
Samuel Davis of Rhode Island settled the
farm off the road, on Oak or Huckleberry Hill,
where Otis Cook recently lived, now owned and
occupied by Andrew Perry. A later occupant of
the place was Philip Helmer.
Clarence Cook owns and occupies the old
David Lawrence farm. The latter was followed
on the place by Pasco, son of Thomas, Matteson
(Madison), who had lived there about sixty years
The first schoolhouse in this district (No. 9),
built before 1820, stood east of the little creek.
The present is the third. Some early teachers
were Sally Northrup, her sister Cynthia, Martha
Miller and a Miss Rouse.
Near the site of the present schoolhouse in
1825 lived Josua Hague. Many years before Seth
Rowley had built a saw mill here on the little
creek. Just below lived Daniel Doliver. A little
way above here, on the old road east of the
turnpike, in 1820 lived Jacob, son of Abraham,
Pratt. He sold to Levi, son of Asa, Thayer. The
History of Otego 77
place formerly owned and occupied by Delory
Mumford, now by Frank Baird, was settled by
a man named Bancroft. He was a Spainard and
a physician, and practised many years.
North of the old turnpike and a little east of
Charles Bowen's once stood the peculiar house
of Barney Brooks. It was about forty feet long
and sixteen feet wide. On this farm about 1834
a man named Burroughs claimed to have found
a silver mine, having melted up his wife's
spoons to "salt it down." Several caught the
fever, and the farm was bought at a fabulous
price. A shop was erected, a forge built and
drilling and blasting continued for a year or more.
Burroughs did not succeed in keeping his secret,
and the bubble burst. The great silver mine of
Arabia was abandoned. A large pile of almost
worthless ore, containing a very small amount
of lead and antimony, was left a monument to
the god of greed that can still be seen. When
Burroughs fled he is said to have stopped at the
house of Samuel B. Luther to leave this message
for those who had trusted him: "Seek me early
but you cannot find me, and where I go ye cannot
"Old Grannie Mack" once lived some distance
north of this mine. She later lived somewhere
on the East Branch. The floor of her hut was
the earth, and a hole in the roof served as a
chimney. She begged most of her meals, and
spun thread to eke out a scanty subsistence. She
was the widow of Abner Mack, who was probably
a soldier, for she drew her little pension regularly
from T. R. Austin.
ISAAC Edson lived on the place now owned
and occupied by W. A. Secor. His house and
store stood east of the road. Over in the Ots-
dawa ravine he owned a grist and saw mill, a
distillery and a carding-machine, the first of which
was run by William Niles. In 1814 Edson sold
his real estate to "Captain" Peter Bundy, and hast-
ily moved to Laurens. Moses Bundy occupied the
farm and built the stone house about 1841. The
buildings in the ravine were allowed to decay,
except the saw mill, which was mysteriously
burned. Near here in 1798 lived James Tillotson.
In 1792 Ashel Packard occupied a small house
that stood where V. M. Gates lives. He was
Justice of the Peace at a time when they were
appointed by the Governor. "He was a dignified
and highly esteemed man." He had eight chil-
dren. His oldest son, John, was drowned while
rafting on the river in 1813. Johnson Hawley
once had a blacksmith shop and ashery here, hav-
ing moved hither from farther up the East Branch.
Some years before 1800 "Captain" Peter
Bundy had moved from the south side of the
river to the formerly Orville Wilsey, the now Dr.
O. J. Wilsey place, where he built a house and a
saw mill. He became a large land holder, owning
from S. Burdick's south line to the river. He had
eight sons. On the river road below Briar creek
he placed Peter, Jr., who afterwards went to Al-
History of Otego 79
leghany county to engage in lumbering; James,
where King J. Hatheway now owns and lives;
Levi, where G. Morrell French later lived; David,
who built the present house, on the home farm;
Ephraim. on what is known as the Edwin Root
place; Moses, where W. A. Secor owns and lives;
and with his other sons, Stephen A. and Gilbert
S., he moved to the property, now owned by
William Van Name, which he bought from Ran-
som Hunt. Here he lived till his death in 1822.
Ephraim Cross once lived on a part of the Wil-
The Bundys and the French's were closely re-
lated. Before 1804 William French had moved
from the south side of the river to the East
Branch, and was living back on the old road,
on what is now a part of the Wilsey farm. He
eventually went to Ohio. His son, Abel, bought
on the east side of the creek land that is now
owned by Mrs. Sherman Burdick and occupied
by Oliver Harris; in 1849 he bought the Ira
Scofield farm and lived there with his son Den-
nis. G. Morrell, another son of Abel French,
bought fifteen years later what is now the upper
(on the East Branch) part of the Wilsey farm.
To the farm of the late J. H. Talmadge in 1811
came John, father of Ebenezer, Blakely from
Massachusetts, who lived in a log house east of
the road. Later he built a frame house west of
the road which was soon burned; he then fitted
up his wagon-house, and lived in it several years.
He built a carding-machine and a building for
cloth-dressing at "Kelseyville," which was burned
with a large quantity of wool. He ran for Con-
80 History of Otego
gress against John H. Prentice, the founder of
The Freeman's Journal.
The present schoolhouse in this district is the
second. Two early teachers were Marilla Bundy
and Polly Cook.
Ira Scofield came to the next place from Troy
in 1810, and built the present house. He sold
to Abel French, and went to live with his son
in New York. The farm is now occupied by
Eli Odell was an early occupant of the place
now owned and occupied by O. F. Thorpe. He
moved west. A later occupant was William Loo-
The next place, now owned by W. S. Hathe-
way, was settled before 1800 by "Captain" James
French. His cousin, Wheeler French, who loved
the chase, was here later.
Some years before 1800 Casper Overhizer
had come from the Mohawk to the old Elias
Arnold place, now owned and occupied by W. S.
Hatheway. His father, Conrad, lived on the next
place, now owned and occupied by King J. Hathe-
way. The buildings on the latter place were
erected by James Bundy, who built the barn of
pine bought from Alexander Hatheway for $1.
The Overhizer family, originally from Rensselaer
county, was noted for its longevity.
Fifty years ago Peter, son of James, Bundy was
living on the place now owned and occupied by
John J. Enderlin. "He was an ironsided man,
who took a backbone farm and made it good."
Benjamin Green was a very early settler on the
place now owned by Herman and Emory Fish
History of Otego 81
and occupied by the latter. Samuel Hyatt, Jr.,
and his son Lewis were here later; still later,
Solomon Crandall. The lot to the south in the
angle formed by the roads was known as the
Christian Couse, a Mohawk "Dutchman," was
an early occupant of the next farm, now owned
and occupied by Louis Boyd.
In 1802 Samuel Fisk was living in a hewn
log house near M. J. Ford's, east of the road. He
is described as a thin, cranky, rough old man,
who once killed an Indian on the Day flat near
the river. In his old age he became blind, and
the neighbors would often fetch him to their
homes for supper, and then spend the evening
listening to his stories of the Revolution. Later
occupants of this place were David Washburn;
John Rowley; Levi B. Packard. Mrs. Rowley
was a sister of John Beaumont, and she brought
the old sailor here from Rhode Island before 1830.
Frederick Martin, a thorough German from
Amsterdam, N. Y., is thought to have been on
the place of the late Dewitt Martin, his grandson,
as early as 1792. "He was a tanner and a farm-
er, and was killed by a kick of a horse." Of
his ten children his son Samuel had the upper
part of his father's farm, known later as the
Hess place, now owned by William Bundy.
Edward Pope, and later his son Daniel, occu-
pied the farm now owned by Mrs. Caroline, widow
of Wallace, Martin. Pope bought his farm in
1814 from Walter Lathrop and Samuel Hyatt,
both resident owners. He once owned the Bun-
82 History of Otego
On the east side of the creek: Elisha Bundy,
Jr., lived where Henry Deliver lives.
The place now owned by Wallace Martindale
and occupied by Erastus Breffle, was settled early
by Arnold, father of Allen and Isaac, Martindale.
He is described as a large man and a stone-
mason. Seventy years ago he was living in Ots-
Phineas St. John of Connecticut settled, pos-
sibly as early as 1790, near here in the woods.
He had six sons and seven daughters. He had
been a sailor, and was a very active man; for at
the age of seventy he once stood on his head on
the ridge-pole of his barn. He built all the
buildings on his place, which was recently occu-
pied by Jay Lent, but is owned by King J. Hathe-
Samuel Hyatt, a Revolutionary soldier, lived
in the little old abandoned house that stands east
of the house now occupied by Mrs. Lucy, widow
of Stephen, Wilsey. He came from Wilton, Ct.
in 1807, and bought his land from Richard
Smith. He carved his initials in the peak of
the barn and the "H" is still plainly visible. Mrs.
Wisey has his old armchair. The story of his
death needs confirmation. He is said to have
pulled a tooth from his jaw, a cancer rolled out
and he died.
Bunnell's Mills were early on the creek, on the
present Merithew place. Here lived Jesse Bun-
nell. John Montgomery was an early miller. A
later owner was Edward Pope, and then John
Phillips. The first mill here was on the west bank
of the creek. In 1845 John Phillips, Jr., built
History of Otego 83
a large grist mill on the east bank at a cost of
over $5000, which was taken down by Richard
Merithew. John Niles was an owner of the prop-
erty before it came into possession of William,
grandson of Philip, Merithew.
Jesse Hyatt came from Connecticut in 1816
or '17 to the farm owned and occupied later by
his son John, now by his grandson Rufus J.
Just above here Johnson Hawley had a blacksmith
shop and scythe snath factory, living in the old
abandoned house owned by King J. Hatheway.
John Lamb, a soldier of the Revolution, once
lived in this vicinity.
About 1794 Samuel Green settled what was
afterwards known as the Thomas Haynes place,
which is now owned by Mrs. Leman Rowe. Cur-
tis Green is said to have owned 400 acres around
the old Green Street schoolhouse. Robert B.
Davis, the latter's brother-in-law, lived near him,
on land owned by Charles Terry.
Nathaniel Emerson of Connecticut had settled
before 1813 the place formerly owned and occu-
pied by Rufus Mudge, now, by Almon Mudge.
He is said to have been a soldier, probably of the
Revolution. He died in 1813 in his sixtieth year
and is buried on the farm.
"Captain" Jenks of the Revolution was the
first on the place now owned and occupied by
Edmund Hatheway. Later here was Stephen
Cook, and he was followed by Alexander, son of
John King, Hatheway, grandfather of the pres-
The first Green Street schoolhouse was the
84 History of Otego
log house of James Boldman, which stood at the
foot of the hill, west of the road near an elm
tree, below George Davis'. Then in 1816 a
schoolhouse was built west of the road,
about twenty rods below the little run of water.
The present schoolhouse is the third frame one
in the district, which seems, originally, to have
included Otsdawa. The first school meeting that
is recorded was held 1 May 1813, and the first
teacher mentioned was James Burch. During
the year 1819-20 the attendance was sixty-three.
About sixty years ago a Mormon preacher held
services in this schoolhouse.
Phineas Cook, who came with his brothers
Jair, Stephen and Elias from Massachusetts, be-
fore 1798 was living in Otsdawa near where Peter
Livingston now lives. He owned the land where
the hamlet stands. He built a carding-machino
and cloth-dressing establishment above the road,
near where Mrs. Catharine Banker now lives, on
the old Isaac Hyatt place. This was the first of
its kind in town. The old dam below the road
was built by him for a saw mill; here, later, was
another cloth-dressing establishment, once run by
James Stewart. Cook raised teasels to use in his
clothing business, and also medical plants. About
1823 Rufus Mudge of Cooperstown, a hardy tan-
ner and shoemaker, and Cook built a tannery
below the latter dam, near Otis Holbrook's.
Phineas Cook died in 1826, and Mudge soon
moved the business to land bought from John
Terry, by the comer below Charles Terry's. He
bought the frame of the house now there from
Phineas St. John, who intended to start a store
History of Otego 85
there. Rufus Mudge did a large business. He
bought his hides in South America. There by
the corner once lived Jolas (Julius) Hatheway,
son of John King.
The greater part of Phineas Cook's property at
his death passed to his second son, Woodbury
K., who built the large house owned formerly
by Barber B. Sheldon, now owned and occupied
by the latter's widow and daughter. This he sold
to William H. Couse. The following men have
kept tavern in this house— Crum, Hitchcock,
William H. Couse, Tanner, and, last of all, Schuy-
The first store in Otsdawa was started before
1828 by Norman Phillips where S. S. Sheldon
lives. The earliest physicians in order were Wins-
low Whitcomb, Ralph Shepherd and Isaac Fair-
child. Dr. Whitcomb also lived a little way be-
low the first schoolhouse built in the Green Street
district, where he kept a little tavern. One of the
first schools was held in Phineas Cook's clothing-
John King Hatheway came overland by ox-
team from Suffield, Ct., probably in 1800, and
bought land at $1 per acre. He had
nine children. He probably settled where
later his son Cephas lived. The latter
had an apiary. The early fallows grew up with
white clover, and, with the large amount of bass-
wood, furnished much good honey. General
Jacob Morris, aide to General Lee in the Revo-
lution, once came to the house of Cephas Hathe-
way to buy some honey. He is said to have
peered into the glass and to have remarked how
86 History of Otego
young he looked. Later here have been Cyrus
Hatheway, and still later, Robert Cook. The
place is now owned and occupied by John Harris.
Ezra Griffith built for a hotel the large house,
east of the creek, near Thomas Decker's saw
mill, now owned by G. H. Jenks and occupied by
Daniel Guile. Griffith had a saw mill here in
1815, but soon moved to Illinois. Later Dexter
Hatheway, and before 1840 a man named Gray,
kept hotel here in this house. This locality has
been a favorite one for saw mills. Here in
1797 was Brook's and Gorton's saw mill.
Samuel B. Luther was a wagon-maker, and was
an early occupant of the place now owned and
occupied by Bennet Weatherly.
Samuel Hubbard, an early shoemaker, lived
where W. L. Fairchild now owns and lives.
James C, son of Joseph Youngs, was an early
owner of the large tract adjoining Laurens, later
owned by his son Norman D., now by Arthur
John Boldman, or Bullman, was a singular
man, about whom many stories have been told.
In 1812 he cut down a white ash tree about where
stands the house of J. T. Sheldon, and took out
230 pounds of honey. He had settled the Terry
place before 1800, probably to hunt, for he was
a hunter by profession. He is said to have moved
to Michigan. "Captain" John Terry came, orig-
inally from Connecticut, in 1812, and hired
rooms with the Taylors for about two years, when
he bought the Boldman place, probably from the
Taylors. He was a blacksmith here for almost
History of Otego 87
thirty years. His shop was in the ravine below
the falls, which gave him power for bellows and
grindstone. He made hoes and plough-irons, and
by his forge the old soldiers were accustomed to
meet and tell their stories of the war. The place
is now owned and occupied by his grandson
On the hill to the west once lived a Langen-
dyke. Peter Eymer was a Rhode Island Yankee,
and lived first on the cross-road near where
James Lent now lives. The first spring that he
was in town, he said that he subsisted on milk
and tender basswood leaves. Later he got some
land from John Terry by the corner on the old
turnpike, where Eugene Holbrook used to live.
There he set up a little lathe, and made cane-
chairs, puddling-sticks and the like. He is said
to have brought the fashion of whiskers into the
vicinity. He is said to have had a brother named
Philip in the "Black River country," who, it is
claimed, was the progenitor of the Armours of
packing-house renown, one of the names, either
Eymer or Armour, having been corrupted.
Before 1797 John Taylor was living on the
place now owned and occupied by George Brown.
There were three Johns in the family at one
time. One of them had a blacksmith shop. John
Taylor once told of having taken refuge in a
barrel during some most unusual engagement in
Some distance above this place in 1813 lived
Josiah Northup. Near here, very early, was
Cornelius Sixbury; also Ebenezer Rice. Years
ago a road, beginning near the comer below
88 History of Otego
Charles Terry's, ran northerly along the ridge
east of the present road. On this road, back of
Frank Garner's, was the Elisha Nason place; far-
ther to the north on this road lived Daniel Gorton.
What is known as the George Collar place,
now owned and occupied by Frank Gamer,
is said to have been first settled by an Allen.
Later came Jacob Pratt, and then, Isaac Wheeler.
A man named Antis and his wife are said to
have starved to death in their miserable log hut
here where they are buried.
Jacob Reynolds lives on a road that formerly
continued east over the hill, meeting the East
Branch road near W. L. Fairchild's. To this
place from Amsterdam, N. Y., about 1807, came
Joseph Youngs, a Revolutionary soldier, orig-
inally from Stamford, Ct. He had a family of
sixteen, and was grandfather to one hundred
twenty-five. In this vicinity lived Stephen Cook.
South of the road once lived Hiram Slade, who
moved to Oneonta. About one quarter of a mile
toward the east on this road lived John King
Hatheway, Jr., father of Julius.
Oliver Judson was early on the place now owned
and occupied by S. A. Emerson and A. J. Brown.
The first settler on the place now owned by
G. N. Luther was Rufus Phelps, brother-in-law
of John Brimmer. Samuel P. Allen settled on
this place when there were no settlers nearer
than three miles. Later here was Nathan
Wheeler, and still later, Henry Vanduzen. "Cap-
tain" Wheeler once followed and killed a bear
that had gotten a kettle over its head.
History of Otego 89
About 1790 Samuel Gates from Canaan, Ct.,
settled where later his son Urbin, and still later,
Lorenzo Lent lived. The place is now owned
and occupied by Albert Hoag. Samuel Gates had
Just east of this old Gates place in 1814 stood
a log schoolhouse. Two early teachers in this
district were Mary Taylor and Anson Judson.
The settlement of the West Branch had begun
before 1800, and was made largely by people
from Rhode Island. At its head in 1810 lived
Jair Cook, Ajax Seeley, Lewis Lane, Francis Wag-
mire, Thomas and Russell Weaver, John Lewis,
Henry Green and Chester Niles. All are gone
except the descendants of Jair Cook.
Jair Cook, born probably near Preston, Ct.,
came before 1800 to the place now owned and
occupied by B. A. Cook, his grandson. It has
been said that Jair Cook first bought two-thirds
of an acre from Cornelius Brooks; if this be
true, he lived first near Otsdawa. The house on
the present Cook place is claimed to be over one
hundred five years old. Benjamin Howe, a Revo-
lutionary soldier, came on foot from Connecticut
to live with his daughter Lucy, wife of Jair Cook.
"He was a blind old man, led by a little dog."
Jair Cook, whose father's name was John, had
at least five brothers. Phineas and Stephen have
already been mentioned. Elias settled in the
town of Morris; Parley settled in Springfield,
Mass.; and Benaijah, ancestor of Converse Cook,
went on to Columbus, Ohio.
The following places had the following occu-
pants about seventy years ago: The T. J. Martin
90 History of Otego
place, Jephtha Baker; the William Harris place,
Debias(?) Vanduzen; the B. C. Hatheway place.
Green Hopkins; the William Brown place, George
Hopkins; and the P. L. Burdick place, Lovett
Anson Judson settled on the cross-road where
Timothy, son of Henry, Sheldon lived after his
marriage. The place is now owned and occupied
by Timothy's son John.
Benjamin, father of Freeman, Edson, a Revo-
lutionary soldier, came from Stafford, Ct., about
ISIO to the place now owned and occupied by
M. A. Edson, his grandson.
On the next place, known as the J. A. Cook
farm, now owned and occupied by Charles Kiel,
William Brown, Jr., was an early settler.
Thurston Brown came with Jonathan Weaver
from Rhode Island, and. married his daughter.
He settled on the place owned and occupied by
the late James U. Brown, where his son Thurs-
ton was born in 1806.
Samuel L., son of Nathaniel, Emerson was an
early settler on the place now owned and occu-
pied by James Lent. He later occupied the next
place east. His brother Dudley lived still far-
ther east, on the place now occupied by C. C.
The Weavers were Quakers from Rhode Island.
They settled very early near the church, east of
the road, on land owned by the late James U.
Brown. Christopher Weaver bought land here in
1793. Abner and Thomas Weaver moved west.
Very little can be learned about the family.
History of Otego 91
George Carr was early on the place now owned
by James Lent.
The place now owned and occupied by David
Starr was early occupied by a man named Van-
duzen. Rowland Carr, who came from Rhode Is-
land horseback over eighty years ago, moved
hither from farther down the creek, to live with
his mother, Lydia.
The first schoolhouse on the West Branch was
modeled from an old log "hog-pen, and stood a
little below A. L. Moon's, west of the road. The
second schoolhouse in this district stood on the
corner opposite David Starr's. The present struc-
ture is the third. Some early teachers were Al-
bro Bundy, Ebenezer Robbins, Douglas Arnold
and James Emmons. This district (No. 17) has
been called the Killawog District.
Before 1799 William Brown, a soldier of 1812,
had come from Rhode Island to the place now
owned and occupied by R. G. Cornell. His house
stood a little south of the present dwelling.
Isaac Cornell bought the place from James Brown
Jeffrey Watson, an old sailor and a great story-
teller, lived where later Clark Hopkins lived,
on the place now owned by Mrs.L.B.Waite, daugh-
ter of Hopkins, and occupied by Henry Haines.
John Clark Hopkins and his father-in-law,
Henry Sheldon, came by ox-team from Kingston,
R. I. in 1817. The journey took two weeks.
Hopkins stopped for a time in Laurens, where his
father, Samuel, stayed. He then lived for about
eight years on Flax Island, on the Trask prop-
erty. Finally, about 1827, he came to the West
92 History of Otego
Branch, buying fifty acres from Henry Sheldon,
west of the road opposite the place now owned
and occupied by his daughter Amy Hopkins. The
house on the latter place was built by Willard
Cheney over ninety years ago. Cheney was fol-
lowed on the place by Jacob Knolls; James Brown;
Aaron Sheldon, from whom Hopkins bought the
place about 1835.
Henry Sheldon came directly to the West
Branch, and lived first on the place now owned
and occupied by Wallace Martindale. With him
for a time lived his son-in-law Rowland Carr.
Sheldon later lived on the fifty acres which he sold
to Hopkins. Still later he occupied the place on
which Parley, brother of Eben and Silas, Harris
once lived, and which, now unoccupied, is owned
by John Harris. Henry Sheldon had eight children.
Over one hundred years ago Wyram, brother
of Abel, French settled the place now owned by
G. R. Brown and occupied by Irving H. Allen.
His house stood west of the road. A later occu-
pant was Jonathan Brown.
Before 1797 Colonel Elisha Bundy had settled
on the place now owned and occupied by Arthur
Foote. He was later a pioneer of Bundysburg,
Ohio. Peleg Burdick, originally from Albany
county, a Revolutionary soldier, then came from
Kortright. He had eight children. He was fol-
lowed on the place by his son Ethan. J. S. Jenks,
the latter's son-in-law, was later occupant and
Henry Sheldon, Jr., cleared the land and built
the buildings on the place now owned and occu-
pied by Sherman Burdick.
Flax Island Creek
ABOUT seventy years ago there were three log
houses between the old corner at the lower edge
of Shepherds Corners and the forking of the
road. One stood near where James Lamb lives,
and was occupied by Joseph Wyman. Just above
lived Palmer Clark, where later the creek washed
Charles Morley out of house and home. The
third, near Fred Shepherd's milking-shed, was oc-
cupied by Samuel Kyle, who afterwards lived on
the south side of the river in a hewn log house
on the present R. A. Hoyt farm.
In 1810 Freeman Trask lived on the old Morgan
Lewis Farm, now owned and occupied by Her-
bert Lily, where he built a saw mill. In 1815
he went to Allentown, Pa., with some cattle to
sell for T. R. Austen. He failed to return, and
Austin found him living peaceably in Ohio under
the name of Isaac Brown.
The farm now owned and occupied by J. D.
Burrell has had before him the following owners-
Allen Wiles; P. G. Finch, Benjamin Fuller;
Levi, son of Elijah, Place, father-in-law of the
The place now owned and occupied by E. W.
Bugbee was settled by Jason Bugbee, his grand-
father, over ninety-five years ago. Bugbee, prob-
ably from Connecticut, moved from the west side
of the creek to this place, where he built a saw
94 History of Otego
Before 1800 Elijah Place probably from Con-
necticut had settled on the farm now owned and
occupied by Thaddeus Place. He was a stone-
mason, and had seven sons. His son Gilbert in-
herited the farm.
One hundred years ago, in the woods, Chester
Lamb was living in what is now the southeast
corner of E. J. Rathbun's dooryard. Later here
were John Fowler; William L Birdsall; Smith
Daniel Smith lived for a short time on what is
known as the J. B. Wykes place, now owned
by Fitch Gilbert and unoccupied. Chauncey
Smith lived here, and built the present house in
1853. Both Hiram Fowler and Jason Bugbee
have lived on this place.
Ninety years ago Zebrina Lee and Peter Lamb
were living on what is called the J. D. Clark place,
now owned and occupied by Daniel Hungerford.
Lee moved west. A Youngs family was here
before Simeon Castle, who came from Briar
creek to the place before 1827.
Benjamin Cummings was a farrier, and made
potash salts on the old Lyman Castle place, now
owned by Daniel Hungerford. Later occupants
were James and Albert Lynch.
A Frenchman named George Galaher lived for
a time on the Fowler farm on his westward jour-
ney. William Birdsall lived here later and built
the present house. The farm changed hands fre-
quently. It finally came into possession of Hiram
Fowler, and is now occupied by his grandson
A. B. Fowler.
History of Otego 95
Noah Trask, an old man, lived on the pres-
ent M. P. Finch place in 1810. His brother Wil-
liam went to Philadelphia with some cattle for
T. R. Austin, caught the yellow fever, and came
home to die. F. W. Edson in his letters gives a
vivid description of the corpse and the funeral.
Parley Pember, brother-in-law of William Trask,
then occupied the farm, and taught the district
school a number of terms. Eighty years ago Cal-
vin Fuller from Briar creek bought one hundred
twelve acres here at $7 per acre. His log house
stood a few rods north of the present house,
which he built in 1835. His son-in-law Perry
G. Finch came to the place about 1580. Fuller
had eight children.
Parley Pember is said to have been an early
settler on the farm now owned by A. R. Squire.
A Slate family occupied the old frame house
which Squire used as a sheep cote. Across the
road in the upper corner once lived a Haight
family. The present house was built by Benjamin
Fuller about forty years ago. Many years ago a
clairvoyant with a witch-hazel wand pretended to
find gold above the present house, west of the
road. Parley and John Harris, Nathan Hopkins,
and Merritt Sutton blasted and dug, working in
silence lest a spoken word cause the "spirits" to
snatch the treasure away. It is said that some-
one threw a skunk into the digging and broke
up the mining. The hole they dug may still be
The first schoolhouse in this district stood on
the line between the Finch and the Squire farms,
west of the road.
96 History of Otego
Among others on the farm now owned and
occupied by J. H. Burdick have been W. T.
Haight; H. Carr; Ezekiel Burdick, the present
The two Trask places, now owned and occupied
by Marion and Henry Trask, were originally one.
Here many years ago lived two brothers, Eben
and Silas Harris, from Connecticut, who made
large quantities of salts. Rodman Fuller once
Moses Richards settled early on the place now
owned and occupied by Charles Hoag; he moved
west. Wallace Wyman, who built the present
house, sold the place to Charles Pearce, who sold
Ebenezer Knapp lived where Edwin Hamilton
lives. Here later was Asa Lamb, and still later,
John Carr. Knapp's house stood near the line
between Otego and Unadilla, as the towns then
existed. When his resignation as captain of mil-
itia in Unadilla was not accepted, he got per-
mission from Oliver Burdick to build a log shack
over this line on the latter's land, and "Captain"
Knapp moved into Otego. After Darius Niles
had been elected at a special election in Una-
dilla, "Mr." Knapp returned unto his own peace-
Increase Niles, originally from Massachusetts,
came from Milford Center some years before
1810, and settled on the lower part of the place
now owned by J. T. Sheldon, in a log house east
of the main creek-road. About 1880 this old
house was moved up above the cemetery, and
used as a Quaker church, which was attended
History of Otego 97
by the Sodens, the Trumans and others, and where
Timothy Crandall and Caleb Braley were early
preachers. Increase Niles, who is said to have
taught the first school in the town of Mil ford, died
in 1817. He had seven children. His youngest
son, William, built the present house. When its
cellar was dug, the skeleton of a woman was
unearthed, funeral services were held and it was
buried in the cemetery near by, land for which
was given by William Niles. He finally moved
to Puckerhuddle. Later here have been Walter
Southerland; George Barton; J. Morrell Bennett.
Two early teachers in this district were Mary
Barker and Zedka Spaulding.
In 1814 Daniel Marr, Ephraim Woodward and
Ituel Persons, all from New Hampshire, settled
on the head of the creek on a 1200 acre tract of
wild forest land. There was no road to it, and
like most settlers they did not ask who owned
the land. First a log house was built for Marr
near the creek on the place now owned and oc-
cupied by Ephraim Brink. They then chopped
two acres on each of their lots, and a road was
cut from near the schoolhouse to where Aaron
Wood once lived, on the place formerly owned
and occupied by S. W. Smith, now owned by R.
G. Cornell, where a house was built for Wood-
ward. On the place owned and occupied for-
merly by L. C. Fish, now by James Sutton, they
built a house for Persons. They then returned
for their families, taking with them a tame fawn
that brought a "fabulous price." Ephraim Wood-
ward is described as a big raw-boned Yankee
loving his pipe; in 1827 he was living back in
98 History of Otego
the lot on J. H. Burdick's, west of the road. The
Marrs were Irish, the grandfather, James, having
come from Ireland.
A few years after 1814 Robert Day and Zebe-
diah Barker, both originally from New Hamp-
shire, settled in the woods near the creek, on sub-
division lot No. 4. Each built a log house, cleared
his land and lived there several years. They
were the first to "raise and sell hops in this part
of the county. Day came here from Unadilla
about 1824, and lived a little way above Daniel
Marr, near where Horace Cady once lived. He
moved to the river road about 1836. He had nine
children. Barker taught school several terms, and
finally went to Ohio. He lived close to the creek
About 1815 Oliver, Thomas, and Ephraim Bur-
dick, and Samuel Searls came from Kortright,
and settled in the woods, northwest of the school-
house, all practically on what is known as the
George Burdick Estate.
Levi Peck settled what was formerly the Dan-
iel Bugbee place, which is now owned by Char-
les Pope. Allen Burdick once lived here.
THIS creek was settled early. Samuel Thomas
and Elihu(?) Smead were among the first set-
tlers. Ben Wheaton, whose name was closely
connected with the creek's history before 1795,
lived in log houses at different places — across
the road from E. E. Trask's, on the knoll below
schoolhouse No. 3, and on the old Carr farm, now
owned by Morgan Place. Wheaton's panther
story need hardly be told, for it is so well known.
Fallen asleep one day on the top of the range of
hills south of the river, he was covered over
with leaves by a panther, that fetched her young
and then pounced upon not a man, but a log,
that the wily old hunter had put into his place
under the covering. From his vantage-point in
a tree, Wheaton shot the panther and her young.
Game became scarce as its haunts were en-
croached upon by settlers, and Wheaton moved
to North Franklin.
William King, a Revolutionary soldier, settled,
early, back in the woods on the north part of the
farm recently purchased by William Hughston
from William Brown. Between him and the river
road once lived one of the Homings. William
Walden is said to have been the first settler on
the place now owned and occupied by Lester D.
Eighty years ago Jonathan Burdick was living
on the place now owned and occupied by Edgar
100 History of Otego
Southard. He had a small grist mill near L.
Gardner's, which he ran only a few years when the
dam gave way. About 1830 Abner Ferry movea
hither from the river road, and finally went west.
He had no children.
Elijah Ferry, brother of Abner, moved from the
eastern part of the town to what is known as the
old Ferry place, owned by the late Homer Bird-
sail, now occupied by Cassius M. Ferry. He died
down the river while rafting. His son Abner then
moved from the Ed. Sutton farm on Wheaton
creek to this place. Between 1834-44 Abner
Ferry moved to Schenevus, renting the place for
a few years to Elias Hinsdale. On notification of
Ferry's return Hinsdale packed his goods, but on
the last night of his stay here the house took fire,
and his brother, Norman, was burned to death in
trying to save some money from the flames. The
Ferrys were from Connecticut.
The first settler on the place next below E. E.
Trask's, now owned by Roland Trask, is said to
have been Elijah Hinman.
The William Trask place, now owned and oc-
cupied by his son, E. E. Trask, was early occu-
pied by Benjamin Walden, who lived down in
the lot, west of the present road. Barnard Hawks
is said to have once lived here. Near the corner
once lived Isaac Gates.
The old Walden farm is the one owned for-
merly by Theodore Knapp, now Willard Knapp.
Here, east on the old road, in 1810 lived old
John Walden, who mysteriously disappeared in
History of Otego 101
1824. Stories were told of lights and spooks
seen in his dooryard afterward.
John, son of Timothy, Birdsall settled what is
known as the David and Ira Birdsall farm, now
owned and occupied by the former.
Truman Trask from Rhode Island settled early
where Henry Heliker formerly lived, on the
place now owned and occupied by George Ben-
nett. Trask moved hither from the river road,
just above the Day farm.
Nahum Smith moved from the river road about
1818 to the place owned and occupied formerly
by Edward Smith, now by Carl Smith, son and
Before 1813 Eben Warner was on the place
now owned and occupied by Peter Vanlone.
Others here have been Daniel Shepherd and.
later, Bennett Chatfield of Connecticut. Michael
Birdsall once owned this place.
Isaac Brown, originally from Massachusetts,
came, probably from the Butternuts, to the West
Branch about 1800. About 1814 he bought the
farm now owned and occupied by H. G. Brown,
his grandson, and the place across the road now
owned and occupied by Wesley Stillwell, from
Daniel Knapp and William Potter. The next
year he built a carding-machine and a fulling-
mill down by the creek, the old foundations of
which were destroyed by a flood four years ago.
The dam for the saw mill that he also built may
still be seen. Brown is said to have learned the
"art and mystery of the clothing business" from
Phineas Cook. The present house was built about
102 History of Otego
1825. A store was once kept there on the cor-
The first schoolhouse is this district (No. 3)
was of logs. The present and third one was built
by William Merithew. Two early teachers were
Daniel Shepherd and Perry Angel.
The place now owned by Johnson Wilbur is
the old Knapp farm. "Deacon" Daniel Knapp, a
Revolutionary soldier, came from Taunton, Mass.
about 1793, buying his farm in 1803 from Philip
Merithew. In his later years Knapp lived in the
village, just west of the Otsdawa. A later occu-
pant of this farm was Simeon Castle, who was
originally from Connecticut, and had seven sons.
When Knapp first came to town he is said to have
lived about forty rods above Brown's, east of the
main creek road, where his son Aaron lived
Philip Merithew, a Revolutionary soldier, came
from Rhode Island before 1800, and in 1803
bought his land from John Lawrence of New
York. His father, Richard, had been an old sea
captain, and his only son was William. The
three lie buried under plain stones in the old yard
near by, for they were Quakers. The old Meri-
thew farm was later occupied by H. Doolittle,
and is now owned by Legrand Castle. The house
is one of the oldest on the creek.
In the same year and from the same party the
lot next above, No. 124 Morris patent, was bought
by "Captain" Levi Austin, who had come from
Stockbridge, Mass. about 1792. He was a black-
smith, and his shop stood near the corner of the
History of Otego 103
roads. He sold fifty acres by the creek to Isaiah
Blanchard, a Scotch blacksmith, who had come
from Rhode Island to Otsego county in 1806.
The latter sold his property to the Shepherds,
and moved to Sand Hill. In his later years Aus-
tin lived with Philip Merithew, who is said to
have been his comrade in the Revolution. He
died on the E. E. Trask place.
Robert Potter is said to have come by ox-team
and sled with Philip Merithew from Rhode Is-
land. In 1803 he bought for $155 one hundred
acres from Levi Austin. Here he lived his life
and was followed by his son Robert. The place
is now owned and occupied by Eugene Moore.
Simeon Bliss of Connecticut was an early set-
tler on the place owned and occupied formerly
by G. A. Barton, later by W. F. Ward, now by
George Belden. He sold the place to Stephen
It has been said that John Vermilyea, the Revo-
lutionary soldier, moved from the river road to
live at the top of the pitch below the creamery,
where he finally became insane. The property
was early owned by William, brother of Robert.
Potter. He reserved twenty-five acres here from
his land for his wife Olive, and disappeared to
Pennsylvania. With her lived her sister, who
after the death of her first husband, John S. Ver-
milyea, married an Aris.
In 1821 part of the place now owned and oc-
cupied by J. L. Goldsmith and the next place
above were sold by Oliver H. Everett, a resident
owner, to Nathan Birdsall and William Shepherd.
104 History of Otego
The latter had the Goldsmith place, and was fol-
lowed by his son Augustus. Across the creek
once lived John Morehouse, and in the immediate
vicinity, Christopher Green.
The place now owned and occupied by Edward
Wyman was originally two places. About eighty
years ago Elias Burdick lived on the lower part,
which was bought by Jonas Wyman in 1831.
Benjamin Vermilyea, a very early settler, bought
the upper part from Stephen Scott in 1809, and
conveyed it to John S. Vermilyea fifteen years
later. This part was bought by William, son
of Jonas, Wyman, and the two places were joined
The Vermilyeas were Dutch, and probably from
The farm now owned and occupied by Leslie
Smith was early settled by Bateman Walden, who
sold, all or a part, to Bates Finch. The place
later passed into the hands of Thomas Truman,
a Quaker. Truman probably came here from
Albany county. He was a descendant of a Thomas
Truman, who came from England to Rhode Is-
land over one hundred sixty years ago..
Edward and Solomon Fuller once lived on the
place now owned and occupied by George Haines.
Ninety years ago Isaac Benedict was the wealth-
iest man in town. He is described as "a large,
stout man, who built much good stone wall."
He owned the next two places, which are now
both owned by Morgan Place. He sold the lower
one, known later as the William Arnold place,
to John Sheldon. His son George sold the
upper one to Ed. Carr in 1834; the next
occupant was James Emmons, who had
History of Otego 105
married a daughter of George Carr. Above
the cemetery, land for which was given by Bene-
dict, about 1820 was built the so-called "Bene-
dict Academy," which was a schoolhouse about
20x30 feet and of rough boards. Here in 1821
Phineas Emmons, a graduate of Yale, taught
thirty pupils. This Emmons lived in a log house
on the top of Emmons Hill, and was an eccentric
man. He is said to have been the first one to
bring white daisies into this region, scattering the
seeds over the hills.
Edmond P. Emmons of Rhode Island was an
early settler on the place where Ezra Brown
formerly lived, which is now owned and occupied
by James A. Waite. His crippled brother, Arthur,
lived near by, on the old cross-road, east of the
schoolhouse. The latter was deprived of his lands
by the owners, moved to Puckerhuddle, and was
followed on the place by Calvin Fuller, whose
brother, Isaiah, built a comb-factory somewhere
on the creek about 1820. Fuller sold the place
to a Bushnell in 1827, and moved to Flax Island.
Farther to east on this old road on the place owned
formerly by George Utter, later by David Hurd,
now by Morgan Place, lived Elias Hinsdale, who
came from Connecticut about 1814. He was a
blacksmith, and his anvil is at H. G. Brown's.
Whenever there was occasion to go to town, he
and a rundlet rode the pony together, but com-
ing back they sometimes parted company.
James Wait, originally from Dartmouth, Mass-
achusetts, came from Saratoga county in the win-
ter of 1807-8, and lived for a short time on the
Peace place. He is said to have next settled
106 History of Otego
in a little clearing made by John Fisk, and here,
east of the main creek road and some distance
below the corner, he built his log house. This
Fisk substituted for him in the War of 1812. The
house later occupied by his son Eben, and recently
by the latter's widow, Elizabeth, was built by
him about 1828. When Calvin Fuller first came
from Rheoboth, Massachusetts in the summer of
1819, he settled about one-quarter of a mile north
of this house, in the town of Butternuts, with Jo-
seph Pearce and Benjamin Soden, neighbors on
the east and west respectively. The Fuller fam-
ily boarded with John Keysor until their log house
was finished. Calvin Fuller had eight children.
Before 1800 Joseph Pearce, probably from
Rhode Island, had settled on the next farm, ad-
joining Butternuts. He was an agent for Goulds-
brow Banyar. His neighbor on the north, over
the line, was Peter Farnum, a Connecticut Yan-
Benjamin Soden was an English Quaker, who
moved from the river road to the place now owned
by R. G. Cornell and occupied by Fred Scram-
ling, in the town of Butternuts. He bought the
place from the original settlers, John and Elisha
Fisk from Connecticut.
THE first Church, Congregational or Presby-
terian, was organized 17 September 1805 at the
house of Abram Blaklee. Rev. Abner Benedict,
who preached a sermon, was chosen Moderator,
Ashael Packard and Daniel Knapp, Deacons and
Ashael Packard, Clerk. The ten original mem-
bers were Ashael Packard, David Ogden, Sus-
annah Ogden, Mary Overhizer, Zenas Goodrich,
Mary Goodrich, Christian Goodrich, M. Goodrich,
Daniel Knapp and Samuel Elwell. For the first
two years they doubtless had no stated minister.
On 12 August 1807 Rev. William Bull was chosen,
and during his service of two years a church was
built near the house now occupied by William
Van Name. It was about thirty-two feet square
with twelve-foot posts and a quadrangular roof.
For several years it was only enclosed; the seats
were without backs, and the congregation kept
themselves warm in winter by the use of foot-
stoves and bricks, until the church was completed
in 1816. It stood a rough unpainted structure
for many years and was finally torn down. It has
been said that this church was put up as a Union
Church and was so used. It was nicknamed the
"Powder House." Two of the early preachers
in its little pulpit up on the wall were Elders
Morse and Robinson. The present edifice was
commenced in 1830 and dedicated in 1833. The
cost of the building was about $2900. A bell was
purchased in 1852. In 1867 the church was
108 History of Otego
thoroughly repaired and painted. In 1820 the
church at Butternuts became divided and sixty-
seven united with this church.
The Baptist Church was organized 4 April 1816.
Abram Blaklee was the first Treasurer and Dea-
con, and William Thomas, Clerk. On 15 August
1818 Elder Daniel Robinson was chosen pastor,
and he served eight months at a salary of $50. A
church edifice was erected in 1829, and was rebuilt
in 1854 at a cost of $2000. The original mem-
bers were Abram Blaklee, Benjamin Green, Wil-
liam Thomas, John Birdsall, Phineas St John,
Silas P, Hyatt, Eli Pratt, Jerusha Birdsall, Mary
Birdsall, Sabra Hunt, Lydia Green and Polly
The First Christian Church on the West Branch
was organized with thirteen members at the house
of Abner Weaver on 10 June 1830 by Elder
Joshua Hayward, who was its first preacher. The
church building was erected in 1837 at a cost of
$1200. It was remodeled and improved in 1874.
The parsonage was built in 1882.
The Second Christian Church, on "Center
Brook," was an outgrowth of the first, and was
organized by Elders C. E. Peake and Allen Hay-
ward in 1866. The first officers were Ira Pearce
and J. C. Emmons, Deacons, J. C. Emmons, Clerk
and G. A. Barton, William Bailey and Leander
Pearce, Trustees. William Case was the first min-
ister. There was nineteen original members. The
church was built in 1870.
The Otego Circuit of the Methodist Episcopal
Church, organized in December 1833, included
Unadilla, Otego, Oneonta, Laurens, Milford,
History of Otego 109
Maryland and Sidney. The circuit was divided
in 1848. In 1852 under the pastorate of Rev.
William Burnside a church was completed at a
cost of $1125. A bell was placed in the tower
in 1853. Extensive improvements were made in
1864-66, and again in 1886-91. It has been said
that the first class was formed in March 1847
with William T. Broadfoot, Leader, Morgan
Lewis, Steward and Henry Halstead, Preacher,
and had twenty-eight members. Rev. N. B. Rip-
ley, while pastor here, published an interesting
"Historical Sketch of the Otego Methodist Epis-
The Immanuel Protestant Episcopal Church
was organized with ten members at the house of
T. R. Austin 10 November 1834, Rev. John F.
Messenger, Chairman. Daniel R. Pope and Jesse
S. Hewitt were elected Wardens, and T. R. Aus-
tin, James Robinson, John S. Rockwell, George
F. Austin, Abel Bostwick, E. S. Saunders, James
Follett and Henry Austin, Vestrymen. Previous
to this organization services were occasionally
held at the house of Rev. Mr. Foote. Rev. Mr.
Messenger was the first rector, and was followed
by Rev. John V. Hughes, who was three times
rector here. Ground for the present stone
church was broken 13 August 1835 and the build-
ing was completed in 1836 at a cost of about
$2500, of which sum $750 was contributed by
Trinity Church in New York City. Extensive im-
provements were made in 1865-66. In the spring
of 1870 a bell was raised in the tower. At var-
ious times the Oneonta and the Franklin parishes
have been in charge of the Otego rectory. Rev.
110 History of Otego
George W. Foote, rector in 1866-67, was called
to Salt Lake City, where he built the first Pro-
testant Episcopal church in Utah territory.
The Free Will Baptist Church at Otsdawa was
organized in the old schoolhouse 5 April 1845
by Rev. S. S. Cady and Deacon E. C. Hodge
with twelve members. In the fall of 1854 a
church was built at a cost of about $1200.
The Old School or Primitive Baptist Church
was organized 12 January 1857 by Elder St John,
who was the first preacher. The first Trustees
were Gilbert Bundy, John Smith and G. M. French.
The first Clerk was James Bundy. The church
was built in 1869.
Previous to the erection of churches services
were held in private houses, schoolhouses, barns
and even in the woods. Orman T. Crane was an
early Baptist preacher, and held services in Ma-
son W. Hughston's bam. Eighty-five years ago
the stated preachers in Brown's Schoofhouse were
Deacons Thompson, Hodge, and Hayward.
Schools in the Village
The first schoolhouse within the limits of the
present village stood near where Eli Starr now
lives. It was bought by Mason W. Hughston and
used as a dwelling house, and was finally torn
down in 1862.
The second schoolhouse was built in 1827.
This was the "Red Schoolhouse," which stood
just below where Tilly Blakely lives. The old
schoolhouse was standing in 1846, and was finally
incorporated into the house now owned and re-
History of Otego 111
cently occupied by Alonzo Adams. Some of the
early teachers were David Shepherd, Peter Fir-
man, Legrand Scofield. Darwin Clark, who after-
ward became Governor of Wisconsin, Sarah Carr,
Lucy Newland and Delia Gates. At one time
there were eighty pupils and only one teacher.
It was decided to divide the district, and the
order to this purpose took effect 8 August 1854.
The dividing line between the two districts thus
formed was about the line of the present Averill
street. The schoolhouse in the lower district was
built by Abner Ferry and stood near where G.
N. Mulkins lives. Three of the first teachers were
Ed. Youmans, John Burr and Harriet Hughston.
In the upper district school was first held upstairs
in the Cole block. J. R. Thorp taught here the
winters of 1855 and 1856, and had fifty-eight pu-
pils. The schoolhouse in this district, when built
by Abram Rockwell, stood on River street, a
little way below the cemetery.
The two districts were consolidated and a
schoolhouse built in 1866 on the site of the pres-
ent one, which was remodeled from the old in
1899. William Birdsall gave the district its bell
in 1869. The school was made a High School in
At different times there have been several Se-
lect Schools, as they were termed, in the village.
A Mrs. Kent conducted one in a house that stood
near where J. E. Truman now lives. A man
named Angel ran one in what had been a' bar-
room of the old Michael Birdsall hotel. A man
named Wright conducted another in a room hired
on the second floor of the old Saunders Hotel
112 History of Otego
while, it was kept by Crumb. A Miss Marsh
taught such a school in the loft of the Presby-
terian church. The most aristocratic of these
schools was that of Mary Rockwell, whose father
built the house now occupied by C. B. Woodruff
for her school.
The following data were kindly furnished by
the Department at Washington —
Hamburg, New York, Otsego county, was es-
tablished 1 January 1811, with Samuel Root as
postmaster. The name of the office was changed
to Huntsville 30 May 1822, and Daniel Lawrence
was appointed postmaster. Huntsville was
changed to Otego, date not given, but Daniel
Lawrence was continued postmaster.
Otsdawa, same county and state, was estab-
lised 3 January 1833, with Norman Phillips as
postmaster. The office was discontinued 19 July
Center Brook, same county and state, was es-
tablished 16 March 1854, with John W. Pearce
as postmaster. The office was discontinued 24
Ayre, same county and state, was established
26 April 1887, with William Harris as postmaster.
The office was discontinued 11 June 1895.
A century ago mail facilities were poor. The
inhabitants went to Laurens, Unadilla or the
nearest postoffice for their letters, paying 6 1-4,
12 1-2, 18 3-4 or 25 cents postage on each, ac-
cording to the distance. There were no stamps.
History of Otego 113
Newspapers were brought every Friday by post-
riders to the houses. The Cooperstown Federalist
and Watchman were the only ones. In 1810 Ste-
phen Cook had been carrying papers about one
year. In 1813 he started on horseback for Con-
necticut to get some parts for clocks that he had
made, and was never heard of afterward. After
a few months John Winton began bringing the
papers, and he and his son Barlow carried them
for a long time. Then a Mr. Griffith was the
carrier. Under the administration of James Mad-
ison there were established Hamburg postoffice
in the eastern part of Unadilla, Oneonta postoffice
in the southern part of Milford, and a postroute
from Binghamton to Cooperstown. In 1820 mail
was carried once a week. In 1827 the postoffice
was in the store of T. R. Austin, postmaster. In
1842 Ezra R. Brewer was postmaster, and the office
was in the store now occupied by Glen Poole.
The box was about three feet square, and con-
tained twenty-six small letter boxes. The present
postmaster is A. D. Annable, whose interesting
sketch of the Otego postoffice appeared in the
Rural Times of 3 April 1907.
At the village —
The first bridge was built soon after 1805 by
the citizens of Unadilla and Franklin, and was
called Hunt's Bridge. It was an old-fashioned,
open, wooden bridge put up on bents, and was
free. It crossed the river over by the "gulf,"
the road turning off to it over the flat just below
114 History of Otego
the railroad crossing. On the other side the
road led from the "gulf" diagonally up Franklin
Mountain, where traces of it can yet be seen
from the village. This bridge fell down of its
own weight in the summer of 1832.
The next bridge was built by a stock company
formed in the vicinity with T. R. Austin as a
promoter, in 1833. It was an open bridge on
the same site as the present one, and its old
mud sills could, at least a short time since, be
seen. The toll was about two or three cents for
a footman, six cents for a horse and wagon and
ten cents to a shilling for a team. Those who
crossed often commuted at $2-3 per year. The
following may be of interest:
"This may certify that Mason W. Hughston is
entitled to pass the Otego Village Toll Bridge
until the first day of March next with his own
team or any of his family living with him, in the
ordinary course of his business and not other-
wise, the said Hughston having commuted for
the same. Jas. Follett, Treas. Otego March 7,
The toll-house stood where Lewis Reddington's
brick house stands; some of the toll-keepers
were widows Birdsall, Houck and Bedford. On
4 March 1845 the town "resolved that the Otego
Bridge Co. charter be not extended," but they
seem to have continued taking toll. The bridge
was badly battered by the ice in the springs of
1853 and 1854, and was finally taken down by
Abram Rockwell in the winter of 1855-56.
Orrin Hubbell, and then Bethuel Fuller, ran a
ferry there until the next and third bridge was
History of Otego 115
built in the fall of 1857, Harvey Baker having
the stone-work and Nelson A. Brock, the wood-
work. This bridge was blown off by a high wind
in the latter part of May 1866.
Until the next bridge was built the river was
forded at the rift, and later, a temporary pontoon
bridge was thrown across just above the site of
the bridge. This, the fourth and last wooden
bridge, was built on the same piers by a certain
Murry in the fall of 1866. It was a free, cov-
ered bridge, and was replaced by the present
iron structure in the summer of 1901.
A course was surveyed across the river near
Flax Island creek in 1831, but no road was laid
nor bridge built.
Near Hale's —
The first bridge here was built shortly before
1830. It crossed the river just below the large
island belonging to the Northup farm, at the
place where Henry Shepherd had a ferry before
1797; the bridge itself is called Shepherd's Ferry.
It was taken off by the ice in a few years.
In 1835 the second bridge was built some dis-
tance below the above spot by Russell Murry.
This bridge was rebuilt in 1846 by Albert and
Horatio Merrick at a cost of $200. It was stand-
ing in 1857, but was gone by 1860. It stood con-
demned for several years. All the bridges here
The first newspaper, the Otego Literary Record,
was started by Owen and Tompkins in September
116 History of Otego
1868. The first printing office was in the Cole
Block. Orwen soon became the sole one in-
terested. The name was changed to the Otego
Record, and at different times during 1872 had at
least three publishers, Alpheus S. Foote, O. B.
Ireland and a man named Bunnell. In August
1872 G. A. Dodge started the Otego Times, a
Greely paper, in opposition to the Record, that
favored Grant. In January 1873 Dodge purchased
the Record and consolidated the two papers under
the name of the Otego Times and Record. Thomas
M. Cash was given editorial charge. Dodge was
at the same time editor of the Home and Abroad
at Unadilla, into which the Otego Times and
Record was absorbed in January, 1874.
During 1873 Cash published the details of a
certain scandal in town, and in April 1874 was ar-
rested by a United States Deputy Marshall for
unlawful use of the mails. He escaped convic-
tion. He disappeared from Otego, and many years
afterward died on a vessel off the coast of Cali-
fornia and was buried at sea.
In April 1878 B. H. Gadsby of Gilbertsville
started the Otego Gazette, which in January 1879
was absorbed in the Gilbertsville Journal.
In 1881 A F. Flummerfelt and W. H. Putnam
started the Susquehanna Wave. Flummerfelt
later became the sole editor. V. S. Fuller bought
the paper in April 1886, and changed the name
to the Otego Times. Fuller changed the name to
the Rural Times in 1889, and under this name
edits and publishes it now.
Otego's Old Soldiers
IT is practically impossible to get an absolutely
correct list of the soldiers and the sailors of
the Revolution and of the War of 1812. Much
valuable information might be gleaned by patient
search among the records at Washington. The
records of the Civil War and of the War with
Spain are easily available. The two following
lists do not claim to be either complete or free
John Armstrong (d. 20 Mr. 1853, ae. 96; buried
in the Pope yard on the East Branch)
General (?) Bates
John Boldman — enlisted in Virginia.
Elisha Bundy (b. 6 Oct. 1760— d. 1824 or '25;
Peleg Burdick (d. 23 Jun. 1836, ae. 77; Carr Yard
on West Branch)— was on a prison ship.
Benjamin Edson (d. 1 Jly. 1843, ae. 84; in the
yard by the church on the West Branch) —
is said to have been a drummer.
Samuel Fisk— was at Stony Point.
Benjamin Howe (d. ae. 70; buried in the Gates
Samuel Hyatt (d. 14 Oct. 1831, ae. 72; Pope
yard)— was at Stony Point.
118 History of Otego
William King (said to be buried under a plain
stone in the yard on the Earle Root place) —
is said to have been a trumpeter.
Daniel Knapp (d. 21 Apr. 1836, ae. 83; Presby-
terian yard in the village)
Joseph Marr (in the yard on Flax Island is a stone
inscribed, "James Marr, d. 11 Aiig. 1824,
ae. 82;" it may be this man, for Jas. and
Jos. are easily confused in script.)
Philip Merithew — was a Quaker, and a plain stone
marks his grave in the old Merithew yard
on Briar creek.
Joseph Northrup, Sr. (d. 23 Jan. 1842, ae. 87;
said to be buried on the place of Alonzo
Judd) — was in the Sugar House prison in
Daniel Ogden — was 2nd Lieut, in Colonel Har-
per's regiment; he entered the Revolution
4 April 1777 and served till the end of the
David Ogden— (d. 30 Oct. 1840, ae. 76; Tread-
well, N. Y.)— see Chapter VL
Asahel Packard (d. 26 Jun. 1846, ae. 83; in the
Episcopal yard at Unadilla) — enlisted 14
Sept. 1781, and served two months and
three days as drummer in the Vermont mi-
Isaac Quackenbush (Riverside yard at Oneonta).
David Smith (d. 20 May 1848, ae. 90; Presbyterian
yard in the village)
John Snouse — was among the Indians.
Moses Stevens (said to be buried either by the
History of Otego 119
"Pines" on what is known as the James
Cole place, or in the poor yard at Coopers-
John Taylor— escaped from a British prison ship
and swam three miles at night.
Captain Ezekiel Tracy (d. 24 Feb. 1820, ae. 66;
farm of Alonzo Judd) — commanded a com-
pany at the Battle of Bennington.
Joseph Youngs (d. 28 Dec. 1842, ae. 82; Wheeler
Doubtful are Captain Levi Austin; William
French (d. 15 Aug. 1838, at 94; at or near Bun-
dysburg, Ohio) ; John King Hatheway (under a
plain stone in the yard just below Otsdawa, called
the Cook cemetery).
War of 1812
Thurston Brown (buried somewhere near Lock-
port, N. Y.)
William Brown (d. 28 May 1844, ae. 77; in the
Brown yard on the West Branch)— was in
a Rhode Island regiment.
Ephraim Burdick (d. 1871, ae. 79)
Oliver Burdick (d. 10 Oct. 1872, ae. 84)
Thomas Burdick (d. ae. 75)— the three Burdicks
are all buried in the yard on Flax Island.
Ethan Burdick (d. 27 July 1867, ae. 76; Carr
yard on West Branch)
Elam Edson (d. ae. 89; said to be buried at
Cherry Creek, N. Y.)
120 History of Otego
Abel French (d. 1861, ae. 77; buried in the
Jeremiah French (d. 7 Mr. 1830, ae. 61; Presby-
terian yard in the village)
Calvin Fuller (d. 1868, ae. 86; in the yard on
Briar Creek) — was stationed at Martha's
Vineyard. In his later years he drew a land
warrant for 160 acres of government land.
Levi Hale (d. 16 Aug. 1866, ae. 74; Evergreen
yard in the village) — was stationed at New
John A. Hodge — was stationed at Sackett's Har-
Samuel Martin (d. 11 Oct. 1864, ae. 72; Presby-
terian yard in the village)
George T. Northup (b. 1784— d. 1871; Presby-
terian yard in the village)
Samuel Northup (d. 16 Nov. 1819, ae. 63; farm
of Alonzo Judd)
David Ogden — see first list.
Jacob Quackenbush (d. 26 Aug. 1846, ae. 53;
buried in the yard on the Orlando Quacken-
bush place) — was stationed at New York.
Thomas Weaver (d. ae. 80; said to be buried
at Cherry Creek, N. Y.)
John Youngs (d. 20 Feb. 1823, ae. 39; in the
Doubtful are Cyrus Bates (originally from Ver-
mont, came to Otego in 1832, and is buried some-
where on the West Branch; he may be the "Gen-
eral Bates" in the list of the Revolution) ; Ben-
History of Otego 121
jamin Shepherd (b. 1775— d. 1852; in the Pres-
byterian yard in the village — is said to have com-
manded the company of which Abel Packard was
a member) ; Captain Ezekiel Tracy, who may
have been in both wars.
In 1812 a regiment of militia was drafted in
Otsego county, and Otego, Unadilla and Butter-
nuts were required to furnish one company.
Thurston Brown was drafted in September of
that year, and joined the company at Morris.
He was Orderly Sergeant, and was later pro-
moted to Captain. He was in the engagement
under General Van Rensselaer, where he was
taken prisoner, and was sent home in December
of the same year on parole.
Otsego county, under the old regime of in-
fantry organization, was in the 16th Division, 2nd
Brigade. Jacob Morris was the first Major-Gen-
eral. The "trainings" were social events. Gen-
eral training was held near the village on the
flat above the Otsdawa bridge, east of the creek,
and the troopers wore British uniforms. At times
practical jokes were carried too far. A certain
Captain Walton was once accidentally killed at a
training. Company training was often held on
the flat west of Mrs. Lucinda Northup's house.
Aaron Brimmer and Joseph Northup, Jr., were
two of the captains and some of the names on
the roll were Samuel Cuyle, John Ryder, Benja-
min Pender, Josiah Goodrich, Levi Han, John
Rathbun and Steven Bradley.
THE village at different periods:
1822— "The Village of Hamburgh has a Post-
office of the same name, 24 dwellings, 2 mills, 2
stores, a schoolhouse, and a variety of mechan-
ics' shops, a busy thriving little place founded
in 1810. The PostofFice will probably soon take
the name of the town (Huntsville), and why not
the village also?"
1835 — Three taverns, three stores, three
churches, two blacksmith shops, a grist mill, tan-
nery, a schoolhouse, and about thirty-five dwell-
1842 — Three taverns, four stores, three
churches, two blacksmith shops, four other shops,
two doctors, sixty-five buildings and about 300 in-
habitants. Between 1842 and 1889 one hundred
fifteen buildings were erected. In 1842 Otsdawa
had one store, a tannery, a fulling mill, two saw-
mills, and 15-20 dwellings.
1872 — Two taverns, seven stores, five churches,
a sash and blind factory and about 600 inhabi-
tants. Otsdawa had one church, one store, a grist
and sawmill, a wagon shop, a blacksmith shop
and about 100 inhabitants.
The first lawyer in town is said to have been
The first physician was John Wright. Other
early doctors were Root, Hewett and Whitmarsh.
History of Otego 123
The Otsego County Medical Society was organ-
ized in 1806, and the following were members
from Otego up to 1850: 1807 David Bliss; 1828
James Tripp; 1829 Bradley Blakeslee; 1834 E. S.
Saunders; 1839 A. L. Head; 1844 Isaac Fair-
Two early marriages were: Joseph Northup,
Jr., and Polly Goodrich on 9 August 1807; James
Bundy and Polly Overhizer on 17 January 1809.
The first birth was probably in the family of the
Ogdens. Among early births were Rebecca Bird-
sail, daughter of Timothy, in 1791; Samuel Mar-
tin, son of Frederick, on 19 September 1792;
Polly Blaklee, daughter of Abram, in 1801.
The first death of which any authentic record
has been found was that of John Weaver, who
died in 1800.
The first tannery in town is said to have been
down under the bank behind the house now owned
and occupied by Thomas Redding. There were
only two or three vats. Before 1822 Chandler
Mann had started a small tannery on what is now
the upper part of the farm of Webster Birdsall.
In that year Samuel Goddard of Maryland, N. Y.,
bought the business, built the dam, which still
remains, and continued the tannery till 1866.
The Citizens' Agricultural Society was organ-
ized 6 January 1869 "for the improvement of
agriculture in its various branches." Officers
and directors were elected; twelve acres of land
were leased for seven years; and the grounds
were surrounded by a twelve-foot board fence.
124 History of Otego
A half-mile track was graded, the necessary pens,
stalls and the like were constructed, and the first
fair was held 9-10 September 1869. When the
lease expired, the society was reorganized, and
the grounds were purchased. The last fair was
in 1885. The society was dissolved the following
year. The fair grounds were at the head of
Fair street, on land now owned by Harvey Hunt.
The Albany and Susquehanna Railroad was
opened to Otego 23 January 1866. The town was
bonded by Timothy Sheldon, Railroad Commis-
sioner, for $70,000. The road was leased in
1870 by the Delaware and Hudson Canal Com-
pany for a term of ninety-nine years.
The present Otego House was built by William
Sliter in the summer following the burning of
the old Hunt Hotel in the big fire on 15 April
The Susquehanna House was modeled from
T. R. Austin's dwelling by Isaac Wheeler in 1852.
Wheeler sold it to Adam Horton, who made ex-
tensive changes. A later owner was Ely Dean.
The Breffle Hotel was modeled by Alfred
Breffle from the old Richard Holiday house, and
opened by him in 1894.
The Hotel Francis was built by Dwight Strong
about 1872 for a sort of store. Fred. H. Fowler
was the first to keep a hotel here. Edward Brady
modeled it into its present form in 1891.
The following are a few of the men of Otego
who became prominent citizens of the State: Ran-
History of Otego 125
som Hunt, member of the Constitutional Con-
vention of 1821; John Blakely, Member of As-
sembly from Otsego in 1819, '21, '22, and '24;
Harvey Hunt, Member of Assembly from Otsego
in 1843, and in the New York Custom House
during the administration of James Buchanan;
Ebenezer Blakely, Member of Assembly from Ot-
sego in 1846, State Senator in 1854, a Presiden-
tial Elector in 1864, and State Assessor; Dr. E.
S. Saunders, Member of Assembly from Otsego
There are over thirty burial-places in this town.
The first grave in the Evergreen Cemetery was
in what is called the "old part," and was dug for
Nancy Maria, daughter of Mason W. Hughston,
in 1832. There are said to be three Revolutionary
soldiers buried under plain stones in the old
Merithew yard on Briar creek. One of them
(probably Philip Merithew), when over ninety
years old, was offered a pension of $3,000 by
the Government, which he refused because he
thought it was the price of blood, saying, "I
fought for liberty, not for money."
The Otego Water Company was formed in
1889, and sold its plant to the village in 1900.
The reservoir is claimed to have an elevation of
180 feet, producing a pressure of 75 pounds to
the square inch.
The Health Board was formed in 1882.
The village was lighted by oil lamps in 1892;
by electricity in 1907.
The Bowe Casket Company, Ltd., began its
126 History of Otego
building in the fall of 1887 and completed it
within a year. Operations ceased in December
1904. On an average twenty-five men were here
The Opera House Block was built by V. S.
Fuller in 1897.
The Otego Grange (No. 788) was organized
12 April 1894.
The Otego Hose Company No. 1 was first or-
ganized 11 November 1889.
The Otego Hook and Ladder Company was or-
ganized in 1895.
The Fire Department building was erected in
The Otego Union Lodge, F. & A. M., No. 282,
was organized 23 October 1852 with the follow-
ing officers: Cornelius Brink, Master; A. Light,
Sr. Warden; C. H. Green, Jr. Warden; Harvey
Hunt, Secretary; C. Thompson, Treasurer; Oliver
Burdick, Sr. Deacon. The first meetings were
held at the house of Levi French. During the
Anti-Mason movement meetings were held
secretly in the house that stands on the east side
of Main street, the second one north from Church
The Otego Old Boys' Club was organized 4
July 1904 through the efforts of J. B. Hunt.
A copy of the minutes of the first town meet-
ing of the Town of Huntsville:
"At the first town meeting in the town of Hunts-
ville held at the house of Ransom Hunt, April
30, 1822, in conformity to an act passed April
History of Otego 127
12, 1822, for the erection of the said town of
Huntsville, which act was read at the opening
of the meeting by Daniel Weller, Justice of the
Daniel Lawrence was then chosen Secretary
for the meeting, and was sworn to keep a true
record of their proceedings, which are as fol-
Voted that Abraham Blakslee and Peter Schrem-
ling assist the Justice of the peace in canvassing
the votes which shall be received at this meeting.
Voted that no more than three assessors be
elected at this meeting —
The following officers were then elected (Viz.)
Daniel Weller — Supervisor
Daniel Lawrence — Town Clerk
Benjamin Shepherd \
Joseph Northup, Jn. ■ Assessors
Rowland Carr )
John A. Hodge — Collector
Michael Birdsall i Overseers of
Peter Schremling \ the Poor
Andrew Hodge \ ^ „
D- ^11 /Coms. of
Nathan Birdsall ... .
, , o • ,- i Highways
John Smith ) ^ '
Russell Hunt \ Coms. of
John A. Hodge Common
Nahum Smith ) Schools
William Benedict \ Inspectors
Parley Pember ■ of
Daniel Shepherd | Schools
John A. Hodge — Constable
Voted that only one con-
stable be elected.
History of Otego
Michael Birdsall — Pound Maste
Isaac Benedict \
Peter Bundy, Jr.
Joseph B. Pearce
Levi B. Packard
Voted that the Collector shall collect the town
taxes for three cents on the dollar —
Voted that the Inspectors of Schools shall be
allowed by this town fifty cents per day for their
services while visiting schools and inspecting
teachers — ■
Voted that the Inspectors shall visit each school
in this town twice and twice only —
History of Otego 129
Voted that four fence viewers be elected —
Voted that one Pound Master be elected —
Voted that any person who shall knowingly suf-
fer a ram to run at large between the 10th. Sept.
& 20th. Nov. shall be liable to pay for every
such offence the sum of three dollars —
Voted that swine shall not be free comeners
unless ringed and yoked —
Voted to reconsider the vote appointing Rus-
sell Blakslee an overseer of Highways —
Meeting adjourned to the first Tuesday in March
next at the same place. Recorded by me, Daniel
Lawrence, Town Clerk."
EVEN in 1819 New York state was the "Far
West, the Land of Promise." It took eighteen
days to come from Massachusetts to Otego. More
than thirty years before the above date Peter
Bundy came; and he is a type of those early set-
tlers, who, with ox-team or on foot, braved a
howling wilderness to subdue land covered by
primeval forest. He left home in winter, and
with some neighbors started for Otego. On a
wood-shod sled drawn by a small yoke of oxen
he brought his all — his wife and five small chil-
dren, a few utensils, a little bedding, and a part
of a barrel of pork for food, the brine of which
was afterward boiled down for the salt. The
little company traveled slowly toward the valley
of the Charlotte, having to cut their way a por-
tion of the journey. The oxen fed on the browse,
and the prospective settlers camped out in the
woods many nights, building large fires to pro-
tect themselves from the cold. How long they
journeyed is not known, but their first acts were
the acts of any settler in a new country — the build-
ing of a cabin, the making of a clearing and the
planting of some corn. A home was made and
the settler had begun his struggle.
The usual log house was about 20x30 feet, of
two rooms, with slab roof and rough board floor.
There was no metal in its construction. The sin-
gle chimney, fireplace and partition were of stone.
History of Otego 131
The hinges of the door were of leather. Greased
white paper was used in the windows if they ex-
isted. Many a lesson in early architecture was
learned from the Indians. Framed buildings, es-
pecially barns, were a novelty. The first frame
house in town was probably the one built by
Abram Blaklee. On the south side of the river
John Brimmer's frame house was for a long time
the only one of its kind on the road. The flint
and tinder-box were the only means of getting a
fire, and many old people can still well remember
with what astonishment they saw matches used.
A grease-soaked rag floating in a dish of grease
and lighted, antedated the candle and the oil
lamp. This means of illumination was called a
"snogin," a "slut" or a "witch."
There were few, or no, means of procuring
money to pay for lots and taxes by the first set-
tlers, except through the proceeds of lumbering
on the Susquehanna. The timber was swept from
the land and run down the river to Baltimore, or
over the hill to Walton and down the Delaware.
The receipts were a meagre compensation for the
labor and risks. The families of Elisha Bundy,
Wyram French and Willard Cheney were asso-
ciated in this business. In 1813 they started two
rafts containing about 50,000 feet of lumber and
75,000 shingles for Harrisburg with Casper Over-
hizer, pilot. The rafts suffered various accidents,
the losses were heavy, and the three families
finally moved west. The following receipt may
be of interest:
"Rec'd of David S. Bundy for Peter
Bundy fourteen Dollars and fifty cents.
132 History of Otego
it being in full for running down the
river. Washington, April 17, 1824.
About 1819 T. R. Austin erected a potash fac-
tory, or ashery, on Briar creek near the creamery.
He purchased ashes at twelve cents per bushel in
trade at his store, where maple sugar at six cents
per pound could also be sold. He built another
factory on the south side of the river near the
corner of the Franklin and the river roads. Such
enterprises helped to solve the money problem.
The early settlers had to raise their own pro-
visions, and there was much privation, suffering
and even starvation in the early years. "Aunt
Beersheba," widow of Peter Bundy, said that for
several weeks after they came, the family lived
on maple-sugar. Henry Scramling, on the Van
Woert farm in Oneonta, sowed ten acres of peas
with the intention of supplying with food the
hungry settlers, who were crowding in large num-
bers into the woods for settlement. He said,
"Dey sail haf dem free;" and they were all
picked clean. Many of those who consumed the
green peas lived several miles away. There were
a few instances of boiling potato tops and pea
vines for the juice. In one case the women went
into a standing field of rye and cut the ripest
heads, which they dried and boiled to keep the
family alive. The shad fishing every spring was
a great relief. In 1817 many suffered from want
Mills were of vast importance. In 1780 the
nearest mill was on the Mohawk, the one at Una-
dilla having been burned by Butler's army.
History of Otego 133
Even when Ransom Hunt came there were no
mills nearer than fifteen miles and no stores
nearer than ten miles. For some years the first
settlers carried their grain to Cooperstown by
canoe or dugout (the Susquehanna was formerly
more navigable) ; later, by wood-shod sled to a
mill erected on a branch of the Charlotte. The
round Irip took to Cooperstown four, to the mill
on the Charlotte three days. Neighbors com-
bined, each one in turn carrying for the others.
The first grist mill in town was erected by Ran-
Before the advent of stores, and especially of
the railroad, the farmers would often club to-
gether and take their grain to Catskill, Albany
or some other market. Nahum Smith and Leon-
ard Morey kept the first store in town in a two-
storied frame building that stood about where
stands the Bowe block. When T. R. Austin first
came, he occupied this store; in about 1812 he
built a new store directly across the street which
is now used by the postoffice. The old Smith
and Morey store was later used as a wagonshop
by Nathaniel Spaulding; it was then moved down
near the depot where it was used by Martin
Eckert as a sash and blind factory, and was
finally incorporated into the feedstore that stood
near the coal-bins and was burned in 1896.
Before 1817 Daniel Lawrence was merchant in
town and had built the store where Glen Poole
trades. The early settlers made their own shoes,
and raised their own wool, from which they made
all their own clothing. Later, carding-machines
and fulling-mills flourished. The first cloth-dress-
134 History of Otego
ing establishment in town was built by Phineas
Cook at Otsdawa in 1801.
The early settlers had good hunting. Godfrey
Calder saw deer and bear; and there is said to
have been a deer-lick by a salt spring on Flax
Island creek. In 1811 John Boldman killed a
bear, cut it up and divided it among his neigh-
bors. During the Revolution beasts of prey had
increased and the straggling Indians were wel-
comed. Calvin Fuller was attacked one night
by a panther near his house on Flax Island creek.
Webster Birdsall's flat was once a hemlock swamp
and has been described as a veritable "wolf hole."
One winter's night a pack chased Stephen Nor-
thup down Franklin Mountain. The wolves were
very troublesome and offers of bounties are re-
corded in the early town records. In 1797 Una-
dilla offered forty shillings for every wolf's scalp.
Otego voted in 1796 five pounds, in 1800 $5,
in 1801 $7, and in 1802 $10 for the scalp of every
wolf caught within the town.
There were close ties of friendship among the
early settlers. Social gatherings were many, and
in the early years a common treat was potatoes,
roasted in the embers of the fireplace and eaten
with salt. "Bees" of all kinds were popular.
There were logging, chopping and wood-hauling
bees, husking and dung-bees, spinning, quilting
and apple-paring bees, and others. There was one
dung-bee in town that degenerated into a brawl
and ended in a tragedy. It was on the place of
John Christian, or of John Snouse — the present
places of R. A. Wykes, or of W. H. Baker. Se-
veral versions of the story are given ; but they all
History of Otego 135
agree in that, after the work was done, the men
repaired to the grass-plot in front of the house,
where a general drunken melee took place in
which John Christian lost his life. House-rais-
ings were events in which the whole neighbor-
hood participated. A raising usually lasted from
one to six o'clock of an afternoon, requiring a
dozen or more men and several gallons of
whiskey. In 1819 the nearest distilleries were
Shepherd's on the "Plains," and Shaw's at "Bull
Dog." There have been at least five distilleries
in this town at various times. In 1810 one stood
in the village where is Mrs. Mary Rathbun's
house. It was owned by T. R. Austin and run by
Henry Decker with the assistance of old Joseph
Northup ; the yard, where the cattle and hogs were
fattened, is now her garden. Another was in the
Otsdawa ravine above the village. The other
three were later — one on W. A. Secor's on the
east side of the road; another on the south side
of the river opposite the house on the old Cyrus
Hunt place; the third under the knoll back of
Thomas Redding's house. This last distillery was
finally burned. At that time some of the pigs
that were being fattened on the "slop" got loose
and ran up among the hills, where they became
wild and were hunted. Whiskey cost 18-25 cents
per gallon, or two gallons for a bushel of wheat
or rye. It was served on all occasions, the slo-
gan being, "No whiskey, no work."
The times that tried the pioneers are happily
past. They conquered a new and savage coun-
try for the generations that were to follow. To-
day there are finer foods to eat and more sober
History of Otego
liquids to drink, but there are no stauncher
hearts, no sturdier frames, no better men. Not
one was perfect. All were human. And as
they lived they died — brave men.
The following are some entries from an old
day-book of T. R. Austin, dated 1811-12:
For 1 Qt. Molasses
1-2' B. Tea
For 1-2' Powder
1 Violin String
For I 1-4 yd. Fulld. Cloth
2 Sks. Silk
For 1 pt. oil
1-2 Quire Paper
2 qts. Rum
For 1-4' Snuff
For 1-2' Coffee
History of Otego 137
For 1 p. Sheep Shears
2 bush. Corn
1-2' B. Tea
For 1 pap. Onion Seed
1 " Carrot
1 Hair Comb
For 3 Bush. Oats
2 Qts. Rum
For 6 plates
For 1 Hat 10' Bitter /6
For r Nails
1 Nail Hammer
For I Gall. Rum
I doz. Buttons
For 2 1-4 yds. Check 6/
1 Pail 4/ Bitters /6
138 History of Otego
The following from another old book may be
The Town of Huntsville, Debtor —
June the 6, 1822.
Met together to divide our assess-
ment District at Ransom Hunt's $0.62 1/2
Met at Ransom Hunt's and put up
our Notifications on the 15 of
June. $0.62 1/2
Met on the 25 of June to review
our assessment roll $0.62 1 /2
Two days assessing $2.50
Met at Ransom Hunt's and put up
our notifications for Election $0.62 1 /2
For attending Election three days $3.75
Legends and Stories
ONCE upon a time in this valley lived a beauti-
ful Indian maiden named Te-go-wa-ha, "sunny
eyes." Her lover was of a tribe living farther
down the river. Her father was an enemy of his
people. One day the stern old chief surprised
them together on "Lover's Rocks" where they
were wont to meet in secret. With an arrow he
shot and killed the young brave. The girl, wild
with grief and anger, threw herself off the rocks
to death below. The old chief became insane
and for years wandered about this region, calling
for his daughter, "O Tego," "O Tego," and died
with this name on his lips. Another version of
the story is that the lover's name was Te-go, and
as the girl threw herself off the rocks, she cried,
"O Tego." Still another version is that the old
chief's name was Te-go-wa-ha and his daughter's
Ots-da-wa. When he shot, he missed the lover
and killed his daughter Ots-da-wa. But this
leaves the story to be completed by some fertile
brain; for what did the old chief do to the lover
A member of a band of Delawares, who were re-
turning from a hunting expedition in the vicinity
of Otsego Lake, once seized and carried off a
girl of one of the tribes of the Five Nations.
The two hid for the night on old Flax Island. The
brave went to reconnoitre. On his return, as
140 History of Otego
his canoe grated on the island, he straightened up
to leap upon the land, and was shot by some
members of the girl's tribe, who had discovered
their retreat. The Indian fell into the deep water
off the island, and the girl leaped in after him.
Both were drowned, and their bones lie some
where on the bottom of the river.
Tradition says that Otego was the scene of the
cold-blooded murder of the beautiful and lovely
daughter of Cog-no-wa-no, chief of the powerful
and haughty tribe of Indians, whose hunting and
fishing grounds lay along this section of the Sus-
This vicinity, like many another, is famous for
Indian tradition of valuable mines of gold, silver
and lead, the latter two of remarkable purity.
Silver in large quantities is thought to be in the
range of hills between the Otego and the Ots-
dawa creeks. Daniel Strait is said to have once
found enough lead here to make some bullets.
It is claimed that the Indians chopped off the lead
in their mines with their tomahawks, so pure was
it. This strengthens the belief that the Indians
cached their lead. An Indian once borrowed a
kettle from Phinas St. John, and brought it back
filled with "bullet metal." An Indian, named
George Kindness, once stayed several days with
John Hyatt, and he said that he and some others
of his tribe were looking for lead in the hills.
Tradition says that along the ridge between the
East Branch and Mill creek ran a trail to the
Mohawk, and that near it the Indians secreted
some treasure taken at Cherry Valley.
There is said to have been a well marked trail
History of Otego 141
from near the head of Decker's mill-pond above
Otsdawa, following a little spring stream south-
west, to a point near the barn on the place now
occupied by Bennett Weatherly. Julius Hathe-
way and some other boys, who were going to
school near by, once stumbled upon the cave ana
mine to which the trail led. They went in in
single file for some distance until the boy in the
lead called to back out, for he could "see his
eyes." When the older people heard about it,
a search was organized under the boys' guidance,
but no trace could be found.
In the Otsdawa ravine above the village there
is a cave among the rocks on the east side of the
creek, about which many tales have been spun,
Some claim that it is a big subterranean chamber
with another entrance on Mill creek, and that it
contains the bones and the treasure of a prehis-
toric people. Deep in S. S. Crandall's flat is
said to be a vein of gold. When John Winn
lived there, a man and a boy once stayed over
night at his house. The next morning the man
told Winn that his boy could see things under
the ground, and that he saw salt in his flat. The
presence of salt here is possible, for this vicinity
is within range of the Onondaga salt belt. Stories
are told of deer-licks. There was once a salt-spring
near the river, east of the Borden ice-houses,
and another near the village, east of the Otsdawa.
A man named Hopkins and an Indian were once
hunting somewhere on the north side of the
river. They ran short of lead, and the Indian
suddenly disappear, returning soon with an
abundant supply. The Indians once took one of
142 History of Otego
the Vanwoert family, after blindfolding and lead-
ing him by a circuitous route, to a lead mine
where the metal was in a pure state.
Many stories are told of Dumpling Hill. Near
a barn that once stood on its slope were four bass-
wood trees, standing in the form of a square, into
whose bark moccasins had been cut. Its summit
was supposed to be an Indian outlook, where
there was a pine with a grafted spruce top. A
ledge of rocks forms a cave where Indian treasure
was supposed to be buried. The cave was once
found and entered by Charles Mericle, Ira Bovie
and Jake Rowe, but now is lost. Years ago an
old Indian was in the habit of visiting John
Brimmer, and sitting on his steps of a summer
evening would point to the hill and tell of great
and hidden wealth. Veins of coal have been
found here. Adam and Baltus Simmons once
dug up some "ore" on the hill and had it assayed
at Albany. While a well was being dug on the
Quackenbush farm, "silver" was struck, which
disappeared as soon as a word was spoken. Wil-
liam Springs, while he was held captive by the
Indians, was once blindfolded and taken by them
to a cave on Dumpling Hill, in which there was
a silver mine. He said that the mouth of the
cave was covered with flat stones. After the
Revolution the Indians frequented the hill, cross-
ing the river to it late in the afternoon. Theo-
dore Hunt remembers seeing them walking back
and forth along its ledges with torches in the
night. David Blakely, who lived across the
river, told of seeing a flame sixty feet high shoot-
ing out of the hill one morning. The hill used
History of Otego 143
to "roar," bringing people, even from the village,
to listen and to wonder; it was supposed to be
due to gases burning in a mine. The legends and
the stories of the hill had a great influence upon
the crazed mind of Jake Rowe, a poor boy brought
up by John Brimmer. Standing in the road at
its foot he would hurl his testament into the
air and cry, "Dumpling Hill, dissolve!"
Before 1800 Daniel and John Ogden and Uriah
White spent considerable time and labor digging
on the hill north of Dumpling. They supposed
that there was a mine on it. Along the height of
land south of the river there is said to have been
an Indian trail, which was afterward marked by
a state road. A white man once surprised an In-
dian filling his belt with lead on the old Perez
Swift farm, recently occupied by Lucius Chase.
The Indian vowed that thereafter his spirit would
haunt the place to lead or frighten all palefaces
from the mine.
On the north side of the river coal was once
found in the driving of a well on the place of
Leslie Palmer. Among the rocks north of the
road on the farm of John Leonard is said to be
an Indian lead mine; down on the flat near a
little run of water treasure is supposed to have
once been buried.
An Indian once came to Ransom Hunt's hotel
and stayed several days, going away in the morn-
ing and not returning till evening. One morning
he waited until all the loungers had left the bar-
room and then asked Hunt whether he remem-
bered where there had been a pond down on
the flat near the Borden ice-houses. On learning
144 History of Otego
that he did, the Indian asked whether he would
show him the place. Hunt went with him and
pointed out the spot. The Indian then asked
whether a large pine once stood near, and he
was shown where that had been. The Indian
with these two points established, without another
word started in a straight line over the hill west
of Thomas Redding's house. Whither did he go,
and what was his quest?
Near a small run of water on the place of B.
C. Hatheway once stood a huge pine, into whose
bark had been cut the face of an Indian chief.
Several years after the tree had been cut down,
an Indian appeared and asked after this tree. He
was shown its stump. He disappeared, and not
long afterward a portion of a wooden box was
found that had been dug up from the bottom of
the little stream.
Many witch stories were current in early time.
Witches would braid horses' manes, cross the
river near the upper railroad bridge in egg-
shells, and cast mysterious spells over animals
and men. It was. common belief that if butter
was long in forming a witch was in the churn, and
that she could be driven out only by a hot horse
shoe. Old Mrs. Alger lived on the "Plains," and
had a certain white (?) crow that annoyed the
neighbors by its croaking. Finally someone took
two silver sleeve-buttons and molded them into
six small bullets, with which the crow was shot
and severely wounded. It managed to fly away.
Soon it was known that Mrs. Alger was seriously
ill. When she died, six small bullet holes were
found under her left arm.
History of Otego 145
Mill creek was full of witch and devil stories.
Mrs. Hague used to see phantom droves of cattle
stampeding through their standing grain. The
Dolivers used to tell of a rock upon which could
be seen imprinted the outlines of a man's body
and beside it a cloven hoof. The man had sold
his soul for gold, and had been caught here by
the Devil and smashed up against the rock.
On this creek lived "Old M's Tucker," short,
thick-set and swarthy, and reputed to be a witch.
Although she lived alone with presumably only
the proverbial cat for company, yet at night fi-
gures of men and women were to be seen dancing
in her brightly lighted house. She bewitched cat-
tle, and so worked on Sanford Murry's horses that
they would kick at night; they once kicked him
in the head almost killing him. Old Mrs. Murry
slept with steel under her head to protect herself
from any spell that "Old M's Tucker" might
weave. There was a headless man who harrab-
sed his murderer by leaping up behind him when
he rode abroad, covering him, his saddle and his
horse with blood.
But all that is ghostly and weird seems to have
centered about Dumpling Hall with its cave and
mines and traditions. Around its base ran an In-
dian trail. At its foot lived John Brimmer, a
superstitious old German, who always kept at the
head of his bed a loaded rifle, into the stock of
which he had placed a verse of scripture written
on a piece of paper. A shot from such a
gun, with which he had once made eighteen holes
in a deer with a single ball, would lay low all
witches and bewitches. And did he not need it?
146 History of Otego
On moonlight nights had he not seen a headless
Indian dancing around an old stump in the or-
chard near the house? On the hill above him did
there not live an old witch, who could so bewitch
cattle that they would run along the tops of the
fences just like squirrels? This old woman was
generally a good friend of the Brimmers. Once,
however, she became angry at them for some
reason, and one of their cows began giving
bloody milk. The old lady was finally pacified
by a cup of tea, friendship was agam restored and
the cow gave bloody milk no more. The favorite
rifle of Aaron, son of this John, Brimmer was
once so bewitched that, when discharged, the
bullet merely crawled out of the gun and fell
without force to the earth.
Rufus Cook was a great hunter. One night
he with another man shot a bear and two cubs
near a deer-lick at the head of the East Branch.
They were gone so long that a party started out
to look for them, fearing that they had fallen
into the hands of the Indians. A member of this
party was Ogden of Revolutionary fame. Cook
said that he once saw a deer on the hills with a
"chair" on its head. This may have been an
elk. He once took a load of vension to Boston,
and received in payment two handfuls of silver
All the relatives of John Boldman are said to
have been killed near Decker's mill-pond. Bold-
man spent his life avenging their death — another
Tim Murphy, always going armed with knife and
rifle. He once followed two Indians from the
History of Otego 147
river up the East branch to a spring near this
pond, where he killed them and buried them in
a deep hollow. Trailing some of his foes at an-
other time he failed to find them. Crossing over
to the head of Mill creek he stopped at a big
chestnut tree. Suspecting no danger, he left
the rifle at the foot and climbed up into the tree.
The Indians, who had been on his trail, suddenly
appeared, seized the gun that had brought death
to so many of their comrades, and ordered him
to come down. As Boldman was climbing down,
an idea came to him. When he reached the
ground he told the Indians that he was entirely
in their power, but before they tied his hands,
he wished to show them how to use his gun, for
otherwise it would be of no value to them. They
allowed him to take the rifle into his hands.
Stepping back a pace he shot one of the Indians,
with the butt he felled another, and then took to
his heels, making good his escape.
Boldman's panther story is well known. One
day, after having inbibed quite freely at the dis-
tillery that was once on the place of W. A. Secor,
he and a neighbor named Dingman started for
home along the old creek road. When they
reached the place where the road skirts the Ots-
dawa ravine, one of them saw a panther in the
top of a tree that just appeared above the edge
of the cliff. Boldman said to his companion,
"You go down and cut a club; I'll stone him out,
and then you can kill him with the club." His
friend agreed, and when he was ready, yelled.
Boldman began to stone the panther. On the
second throw he hit the animal on the head, and
148 History of Otego
down came the panther to be killed by the man
with the club below.
Another story is told of this same Boldman,
and the ashes that he wouldn't sell. He was in
the habit of taking ashes to Otsdawa to sell to
a certain Phillips at ten cents per bushel. One
day he was offered fifteen cents, but indignantly
refused to sell. After some discussion the mer-
chant was persuaded to pay the regular price of
ten cents, and the old soldier went away, proud
of his shrewdness.
"Jose" Wiles lived on the south side of the
river, and, before the town was divided, went
to Franklin to pay his taxes. One year his name
was omitted from the assessment roll. He was
told that he had no taxes to pay that year. He
became very angry and, exclaimed that "te tamm
Yankees was trying to cheat him out of his taxes."
Captain George Smith, who lived in the town of
Laurens, once told the following story of the
Revolutionary war at the house of John King
Hatheway. He was passing through a wood when
suddenly an arm appeared from behind a tree
and a tomahawk came hurtling through the air
and struck him full on the forehead, felling him
to his knees. The Indian who had hurled the
weapon, thinking that the white man was killed,
now rushed out with his scalping-knife to com-
plete the terrible deed. Captain Smith had just
strength enough to draw his sword, and, as the
Indian rushed upon him, with all that feeble
strength thrust it through the Indian's body. He
heard the Indian yell, and cry, "Law me, me die,"
and then fainted from loss of blood. Thus had
History of Otego 149
he gotten the great scar across his forehead that
had aroused so much curiosity among the Hathe-
Samuel Hyatt was eight years in the Revolu-
tion. He said that he had lost his sense of smell
by eating decayed horse-flesh with its awful stench.
He used to tell of the terrible deeds of the In-
dians and Tories, who would cut captives into
pieces, burn them at the stake, or, pulling the
burning brands from them just before death,
stick spears into their heads and bodies, or, bury-
ing them in the ground up to their necks, use
their heads as targets for burning brands, knives
and stones. Hyatt was once one of a party that
fell into the hands of a band of Indians. All of
his companions were tortured and killed, but he
was reserved till the morrow for a final feast and
dance. Bound hand and foot he was placed on
the ground between two Indians, feet to the fire
for the night. When at last his captors fell
asleep, after much effort he loosened his bonds,
and lay waiting for a chance to escape. Sudden-
ly one of the guards jumped up to fix the fire, and
Hyatt thought that he would surely be discovered,
but the Indian lay down again without examin-
ing his prisoner. When by their breathing he
knew that the savages were asleep, he crept away.
Soon he heard the yells of the Indians, who had
discovered his escape and were hot on his trail.
Hyatt fied through the wilderness until he came
to a great swamp that barred his way. There were
many old tree trunks floating on the water, and,
plunging in, he buried himself in the water and
mud beside one of these logs, leaving only his
ISO History of Otego
nose above the surface. Here he was obliged
to stay for two days while the Indians were hunt-
ing for him over the logs, crying out as a ruse,
"Here he is, I've found him." Then the search
ceased, and after a time Hyatt ventured forth.
He washed himself, found a frog to eat and
started through a trackless wilderness to look
for camp or civilization. For three days he wan-
dered, and during that time he had but one fish
and two berries to eat. At last he came to a hut
where lived some white people, who took him in,
fed him out of their scanty store and piloted him
back to a camp. Hyatt was the sole survivor of
Joseph and Hiram Smith, the founders of Mor-
monism, are said to lived for a time with John
Youmans. This was before they found the sacred
books. Orson Hyde, who lived just above You-
mans, became one of the twelve apostles.
Trouble often arose between the Yankees and
the "Dutch," which was not uncommonly settled
by fights between chosen champions. David
Scramling, who lived in a log house close to the
river on what is known as the John Van Woert
farm, is said to have been a Tory, who had often
gone with the Indians on their marauding expedi-
tions. When drunk, he would dance and sing
like an Indian. He once threw a knife at Fred-
erick Hess and cut his forehead. This David
Scramling and Elihu(?) Smead once had a fight
on the John Brimmer place. "Smead whipped
him badly, bit David all over the chest — bit large
pieces out, and when old David came into tht
house, he trembled all over, for he was very badly
History of Otego 151
whipped." There was one fistic contest that has
been quoted into fame. It took place on "Saw
Mill Hill," after the raising of the first saw mill
there by Ransom Hunt. Three days had been
spent in constructing the dam, and after the
building had been successfully raised, as well as
spirits by a "keg o' rum," two men were selected
to fight it out, John French and Peter Scramling.
They fought a spirited contest with their bare
fists, and French was adjudged the victor. Peace
is said to have reigned thereafter between the
Yankees and the "Dutch."
Rufus Cook kept a tavern on the Thayer place
on Mill creek. Here was held the presidential
election of the old town of Otego in 1828. The
candidates were Jackson and Adams. Enthusiasm
ran high. Late in the afternoon the adherents of
Adams brought down from his home near West
Oneonta Captain Jenks of the Revolution to cast
his vote. The Jacksonians, not to be outdone, went
for old Mr. Van Slyke. They carried the old
Hessian soldier up to the hotel in a chair. When
asked how he voted the aged German replied,
"My mind iss for Schackson," and cast his ballot
amid great applause.
Timothy Murphy and two of his friends, Tufts
and Evans, are said to have marked a trail from
Fort Schoharie to Chanango Forks. The blaze
ran along the north bank close to the river. Near
it were made the early settlements in the lower
part of the town. The old cemetery on the Earle
Root place is said to be on this trail. A member
of Murphy's band by the name of Cunningham is
said to have been taken sick on one of their ex-
152 History of Otego
peditions, to have died and here to have been
buried. In this old yard has been seen a common
field stone into which had cut with a tomahawk,
"W. C. 1777."
The following are a few of the more important
books, documents, articles and the like that have
been consulted in the preparation of this book.
Wm. M. Beauchamp — Aboriginal Occupation of
New York; Indian Names in New York; History
of the Iroquois.
Child's Directory of Otsego County, 1872-3.
Dudley M. Campbell — History of Oneonta.
W. W. Campbell— The Annals of Tyron County.
Documentary History of New York.
Gazeteers of New York— 1813; 1823; 1836;
Jay Gould's History of Delaware County.
F. W. Halsey— The Old New York Frontier.
Hurd's History of Otsego County.
Letters of Daniel Fuller in the Susquehanna
Letters of F. W. Edson in the Susquehanna
Letters of Levi Coburn in the Otego Times,
Letters of Harvey Baker in the Oneonta Herald,
David Ogden^ — Pamphlet.
Records — Town, County and State.
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